school garden

school garden

Monday, 24 March 2014

The new screens are completed

On sunday the garden group dismantled the last two remaining old hazel hurdles and replaced them with the new reed screens. The screens are fairly simple to construct but getting the battens level and pleasing to the eye is most important.  Once in situ the reeds are dropped down between the two holding battens. There is a technique to this.  Two bundles are positioned in their normal position and then the third is positioned upside down.  This maintains the thickness of the screen from top to bottom and also stops the reed from leaning to one side. Once packed tightly the battens are nailed and screwed firmly together holding the reeds in place.  Finally a hedge cutter is run along the top of the reeds to get a good finish.

All ready to start
The battens are in place

The finished piece- click to enlarge picture

A lovely natural screen!

Working with reed produces a lot of debris. Four wheelbarrow loads of off cuts and broken reed were taken to the compost area

One of four wheelbarrow loads of off-cuts

In the greenhouse it appears that the pitcher plants might be going to produce flowers. Strange growth spurts have appeared in recent days.  Some of the plants are now big enough to split and divide and plant up again giving us more plants.

We await to see what nature has to show us.  It will certainly be worth waiting for.

Finally the rhubarb crown was moved recently from out of the old tractor tyre where it had been for the past five years or so.  It was considered that not enough light reached the plant and it did not really produce a great deal of rhubarb stems.  The plant was moved and split and the crowns covered with  large plant pots to force and encourage growth.  The plants are now doing very well.

Friday, 21 March 2014

"Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success"

We title this blog post with a quote from Henry Ford.

The school garden group works in a similar fashion.  Members of the garden group (small as it is) are from all walks of life with a similar vision.  That vision maintains a passion for the environment, education, creation  and enjoyment.  Those four topics bind the group closely together and the empathy and creativity between individuals has since September 2008 turned the garden into what it is now.

This year the big challenge for the group is the construction of the Jurassic Garden. We are fortunate in having a template to work from kindly produced by our friends at Kingston Maurward College.  The Jurassic garden will test the group considerably and offer many challenges.  However the project took a large step forward this week with brick  rubble moved into place which will form the base of the ammonite shaped path.

About the garden things are moving.  Class2P has kick started things and their potatoes have been planted.

Class 2P - first off the mark!

In one of the daffodils a snail was spotted hiding. It looks as if it had been eating several of the petals first before it decided to try to hide. Several bumblebees were also noted in the daffodil flowers- buff tailed and red tailed bumblebees were actively feeding from one flower to another.

Snail trying to hide in the daffodil

The last two hazel hurdles which arrived with the garden in 2008 have finally started to fall apart.  It is intended to replace them with a reed screen as we did before.  However these will be much lower to allow more light into the growing area.  The reed was kindly donated by our friends at  Abbotsbury Swannery.  It is hoped that the new reed screens will be completed in the next day or two.

Reed and battens ready for the new screens

Proof that there is beauty in everything.  A casual glance to the skies at the end of the day revealed this amazing cloud formation. Nature cannot be beaten for continually producing beauty and form.

Finally while sorting out the clematis and jasmine plants on the pergola an old friend was discovered covered in grass and debris from the two storms back in February.

Our frog wind vane lives on after a clean up and quick refurbishment!

Monday, 10 March 2014

Things are buzzing.......!

This last weekend got off to a good start with a new bee species identified in the garden. It was a mining bee and one of the earliest to emerge in the Spring.  It is called Andrena clerkella and is seen usually around sallow which is flowering now in the garden at the outside classroom. 

The black facial hairs help with the identification of this species.  An attractive bee of which we shall probably see more of over the next week or so.  A second record for the garden of Tree Bumblebee (Bombus hypnorum) was made as it fed in one of the Daffodil flowers.  By the size of the insect it was a queen.  Also a queen Buff-tailed Bumblebee was seen resting on the grass.

Tree Bumblebee

Queen Buff-tailed Bumblebee
In the pond lots of water boatmen were enjoying the fine weather and a couple of pond skaters.  The net was removed as the winter has hopefully passed and the huge amount of frog spawn was clearly visible.  Already the 'full stops' are becoming 'commas'. 

Masses of frog spawn on the pond edge

The tadpoles are developing already

The daffodils are hanging on in the fine weather and the crocuses are probably at their best now.  They will soon be gone!  The bees are enjoying them though while they are still there

Work continued in the greenhouse and hopefully during the week the first load of brick rubble can be broken up and put into the base of the Jurassic garden.

The ever present Herring Gulls - now paired up and looking for nesting sites kept a close eye on us.

Sunday, 2 March 2014

Intelligence is endowed, but wisdom learned

During the week whilst the weather stayed fine the last sheets of polycarbonate were fitted to the greenhouse.  With a new lease of life the greenhouse should now see us good for several years.  The brittle glass has gone and safer polycarbonate replaced it.  From first impressions it seems that the new sheets might be more  efficient. More later!

The refurbished greenhouse

Many of the daffodils are still flowering including the smaller varieties.

Over the weekend many queen buff-tailed bumblebees were seen as they flew around nest prospecting.  They are often drawn to crocus flowers which present a bit of a problem for them as they have to dive in deep to get at the pollen

The Borage has started flowering early- favoured by bees

A pollen loaded crocus flower

The petal pattern almost leads the bees to the centre of the flower

On Saturday the garden group spruced up the greenhouse staging and then replaced the plants which had been put in the summer house for the past two weeks.

The paving slabs are repositioned

The plants are back in their new home

What is the weather station reading at the end showing?

Yes just before 14.00hrs it was +31C  in the greenhouse.  It was very warm in there and time to get out!

Whilst dropping off some materials today a unusual sight welcomed. Has anybody lost a black chicken?  It was wandering about and took a liking to the willow classroom.

The next jobs lined up are to sort through the compost bins and dig in what we can, following this work on the Jurassic Garden will continue.

POST NOTE;  The chicken has been claimed and is now safely back in the chicken run in nearby Marina Gardens.