school garden

school garden

Thursday, 30 April 2015

"The palest ink.... better than the best memory"

A Chinese proverb

The garden group met over the weekend to complete outstanding jobs and continue planting and sowing seeds.  The tool shed was refreshed with Harvest Gold preservative and a new bamboo cane rack system was installed along the side which hopefully will keep them tidy.

The edible garden bed was dug over once again and some of our home made compost dug into it.  Whilst transferring the compost a lot of Rose Chafer larvae were discovered.  These are friendly as they convert vegetable matter  into useable compost

Rose Chafer larvae
In the Jurassic garden the tree ferns (Dicksonia antarctica) are doing well and the first fronds now look spectacular as they unfurl.  One plant which we were kindly given has finally showed itself.  We think that it is Umbrella Plant (Dermera peltata). The plant produces small leaves and flowers first and then produces much larger leaves.  We will have to wait and see!

Royal Fern

Tree Fern frond

Umbrella plant (Darmera peltata)- we think!

Nature in action!

Red-tailed Bumblebee

Pitcher plant flowers

Centipede meets large spider!

Repaired bat boxes after woodpecker damage

One of two sunflower plants which were kindly given

Repotted Antler plant

The greenhouse- trailing sunflowers in the foreground
A trial bee hotel was made and within minutes several Red Mason Bees had moved in.  You can just see their heads at the entrance hole

A Rheum palmatum which the garden group had been searching for was finally tracked down and is doing well. The leaves are particularly attractive and the plant will cover a large area when it is fully grown

As the day drew to a close  the sea mist, which had been swirling around the garden all afternoon, turned to steady rain and the group sat for a while watching the raindrops falling onto the pond water

Raindrops on the pond

Monday, 20 April 2015

You have to go out on a limb sometimes..

because that is where the fruit is"

 A quote from Will Rogers. An American born into Cherokee Indian family.  His life was cut short by a plane crash (1879-1935)

Over the weekend much gardening was done.  The World War 2 bed was dug over and one bed planted with 'Kerr's Pink' potatoes and the other bed with runner beans.  We have mixed red and white flowering beans to hopefully make sure that the 'lazy' bees visit the flower and pollinate.  When the bee visits the back of the flower no bean forms!  We have used 'stringless' Galaxy and Moonlight varieties.

The WW2 vegetable patch
While working in this are as the fresh earth was turned a variety of mining bees arrived all keen to bury into the loose soil and create their nesting chambers.  Lots of small black bees were prominent but perhaps the most stunning were the Ashy Mining Bee and the Tawny Mining Bee

Tawny Mining Bee

Ashy Mining Bee

Several of the classes have started work on the raised beds.  Class 2T has planted potatoes.  Class 3H has planted tomatoes, aubergines and cucumbers.

The school pond received a lot of attention.  The green algae had started to build up again and most of this was carefully removed making sure any mini beasts hiding in it were returned to the pond.  Many freshwater shrimps and a stunning Broad-bodied Chaser dragonfly nymph were identified.

Broad-bodied Chaser dragonfly nymph
Small bundles of barley straw were then anchored in the pond to hopefully help remove and stop the growth of any more algae.  The barley straw breaks down and the chemical released should do the job! We await with interest!

The barley straw anchored to a container
Three bundles of barley straw floating on the pond
Many species of butterfly were recorded over the weekend including Peacock, Brimstone, Orange Tip and Holly Blue.

The cherry trees are in full bloom and the noise from the bees visiting them is fantastic

Runner beans were planted around one of the wigwams in the edible garden plot and borlotti beans ( Italian variety) around the other wigwam.  The Desiree potatoes in the large plot are just showing and will need earthing up next weekend.

Overhead a stream of Swallows and House Martins were noted as they  returned from their wintering quarters in Africa.  Locally we have a pair of Blue Tits nesting in the original bird box and a pair of Great Tits in the recently installed nest box alongside the sheds.  The female Great Tit was sat on 7 eggs.

Blue Tit outside her home

Female Great Tit on her nest
In the greenhouse the pitcher plants are flowering.  A better show than last year which might be because we split the plants earlier this year and got many 'free' plants from the exercise

One of our cactus plants is also starting to flower.  The small pink flowers only last one day or so!

Flowering cactus plant
As the temperature starts to rise the garden will start to regain it wonders.  Hopefully the remaining empty class beds will be planted up soon and we will be on the way to another spectacular showing for the NGS weekend in July.

Finally, Terry the Pteranodon produces quite a sinister looking shadow when the sun is overhead!

A sinister looking 'Terry'!

Thursday, 16 April 2015

"There is nothing as eloquent... a rattlesnake's tail"

A Navajo Indian saying.

The fine warm weather over the weekend meant that the working party managed to get much done.  A lot of gardening was undertaken including weeding, pruning, thinning out and planting up. One major job was to tidy the sheds.  Another was to refresh the paint on the HQ shed.

The window frames get a refresh

All tidy for the time being!

The potatoes were planted up along with the barley and field poppies

The potato patch.  Desiree variety this year

The barley and poppy patch is pigeon proofed!

In the pond the first Marsh Marigolds are flowering and also White Deadnettle.  Despite best efforts the green algae is building up in the pond again.  Some barley straw has been sourced and after removing as much algae as we can next weekend we will put the straw in and hope that the magic works!

White Deadnettle

Marsh Marigold
Dwarf tulips in the grass bed

Thrift in flower also in the grass bed
In the machinery shed as the bits and pieces were taken out for sorting and cleaning we found a sea of woodlice all over the floor.

The sea of Woodlice
Bee species continue to increase as the weather warms up.  There were plenty about over the weekend but this one Andrena bicolor is a real stunning insect

Andrena bicolor
The Alkanet is growing quickly and is much loved by bees, including Honey Bees

The tree ferns are responding well to watering.  New fronds are now showing and we are hoping that by the end of next week there will be visible evidence as the fronds unwind.

New fronds appearing

Nearby the Royal Fern Osmunda regalis is also starting to move.  This fern should grow quite tall and has beautiful delicate fronds.  It does like the soil quite wet!

Osmunda regalis
The Rhubarb is responding well to being forced.  This year we have seen our best early crop of Rhubarb and hopefully we can soon harvest the first stems which will stimulate the plant to keep producing more leaves.

The forced Rhubarb
 Nearby the planted Eschalots have all sprouted and we look forward to a good crop.  This long  variety of French shallots  are the best and tastiest for casseroles.

The bed of Eschallots

The refreshed Aeolian wind organ has now been linked with decorative flags from Tibet.  These colourful flags convey hope, prosperity and happiness.

The wind organ with the flags fluttering behind

The Amelanchier  which was moved in the Autumn last year is now enjoying the new position which gives it more light. The beautiful delicate flowers appear before the leaves.  The flowers resemble a snow storm.

Amelanchier flowers
Finally with the day and night time temperatures now rising quickly it will soon be time to start sowing vegetable seeds. The last few evenings with clear skies have offered good views of the Internation Space Station as it zoomed over the school garden.  The following picture is by Dave Walker from Earth Sky

With warm Summer evenings approaching it is worth looking to the heavens to watch this amazing spectacle