The polytunnel has proven to be a real asset this winter at the Garden. Volunteers have made raised beds, potting benches and staging ready for the growing season as well as providing shelter for donated furniture and soggy gardeners!
The bee project is buzzing into action with willow screen planting and a shed base being prepared to receive the storage shed.
Volunteers have been busy creating more raised beds. Thanks to funding from the People’s Postcode Trust we now have 3 more wheelchair height raised beds.
The tractor tyres proved such a growing success last year, we have turned two more into growing beds.
We used the Hugelkultur method for the beds last year and we couldn’t have been more chuffed with the way they turned out. Everything grew really well, with very little watering required. We have used the same method for the new beds, using up the piles of branches and logs, cardboard, newspaper and organic material we have been collecting.
This time, we remembered to take pictures of the process and have put together a specific page with information about Hugelkultur and guide you can download here.
Ideas for the children’s natural play area are coming together with the build of the mud kitchen started. Logs have been put in place in the Food Forest as seating for what will be a firepit.
Thanks to Kev Whitehead, neighbour to the Garden, we now have an amazing owl box. Not only did Kev design and build this beautiful box, he spent the best part of the afternoon hanging from the pole fitting it! Kev was helped by a amazing team of volunteers in the late February sunshine. Now we just have to wait and see what we get in the box!
March is a very exciting month as the wildlife pond will be created. We have taken delivery of the butyl liner and underlay. Rockery stone has been collected ready for use and native pond plants have been researched ready for purchase. The pond will be a fantastic addition to the garden and will have different levels and plants to make it as wildlife friendly as possible.
After much discussion and negotiations Shed Quarters PHASE 1 has been purchased and March will see the arrival of our most ambitious project yet. Following the hard work of successful grants, donations and fund raising, our Shed Quarters is a summerhouse 30 x 14 ft, complete with double glazed opening windows, pitched roof with plans to insulate and clad the inside including a log burning stove.
Finally, volunteers are hard at work organising and planning for our first Greenman Festival following COVID-19 restrictions being eased. We will share more details very soon.
As we come to the end of the year, we look back at the progress made on the Garden and are immensely proud of what has been achieved by all of our members and volunteers. The feedback and support from the community has been incredible and means so much to us all.
We look forward to the time when COVID restrictions are not necessary and the Garden is more accessible to everyone that wants to visit or volunteer. There are so many exciting projects happening at the Garden in 2021 and the addition of a large shed will provide us with the space and shelter to hold workshops and talks on a wide range of topics. It will also be a space to just sit and have a cuppa with friends!
So from all of us …
Volunteers have been putting their crafting skills to good use this month making wreaths, wooden Christmas trees and attempting to make the polytunnel look festive!
The Honey Bees are coming!
Keith Stevenson, Chairman of Shipley Parish Council has been an avid beekeeper for many years and will be introducing the beautiful bees to the garden in Spring next year. Keith had this to say:
The location for two National hives is being carefully chosen, giving consideration to neighbours, as well as providing a suitable and safe area with sun/shade balance, that the bees will comfortably enjoy.
There will be access control into the hive site, which is important, in order to create an environment that is safe for the bees, provides protection from inquisitive animals, and yet allows people to view the bees going about their business of gathering pollen and nectar.
Consideration is also being given to the bees flight path, and the natural existing hedgerow screening will be used, soo that when the bees leave the hive, they will fly up quickly above head height, where they will not be a nuisance.
A secure storage area, for spare hive parts, as well as a safe viewing area is to be created near to the hive site for visitors to quietly enjoy watching these marvellous bees.
Honey bees are wonderful pollinators, and when they are foraging, they are not defensive. They just want to get on with the job of pollination and nectar collecting.
In 2021, I will be concentrating on establishing the bee colony on their new site. There will be regular beekeeping visits throughout the year, as well as the chance for people to get up close to the bees and get an understanding of how they work.
The area has all been planned out with Keith’s expert input and he has been hard at work preparing the area.
The doors on the polytunnel have now been installed, staging is all repaired, painted and built along one side and some seeds have already been sown! We are now ready to make the beds on the opposite side.
We have purchased four more IBC’s and placed them next to the pond site ready for us to use the harvested rainwater to fill the pond, when this is built in early Spring.
This month has seen the ground cleared and prepared ready for more raised beds to be made. One of our volunteers has kindly donated a real Christmas Tree and volunteers have been digging a huge hole, which will hold an IBC to collect the rainwater run off from the polytunnel.
Planting and extending the Food Forest continues. This is really starting to fill out now but still plenty more to be done!
As we head towards winter, our attention has turned to planning for next year, including building the wildlife pond, shelter, developing the children’s natural play area, building more raised beds, plus much more.
Volunteers were busy crafting, making poppies and poppy wreaths we displayed on the entrance gates and in the notice board, in support of Rememberance Sunday and Armistice Day earlier this month.
This month has seen the Sensory Garden show off its Autumn colours, the Polytunnel cover has gone on, planting has continued in the Food Forest, the planting area around the Children’s Pond has been expanded and planted and we launched ‘Veg on the Hedge’.
We say a special thank you to our friends Christina and Robin on Hassock Lane for their extremely kind donation of wildlife friendly plants, fruit trees, currant and berry bushes from their allotment. We have already planted a couple of full car loads and there is still more to come!
The plants and shrubs have established so well that the Sensory Garden beds were actually too full (a nice problem to have!)
We had planted a lot of Goat Willow in some of the beds, not expecting that all of the donated plants would settle and do so well, bearing in mind some of them had even gone passed being good enough for the clearance trolleys in the Garden Centre! So we have been busy moving the Goat Willow into the Food Forest and moving plants into different beds where they are more suited for that specific sensory experience.
Stunning autumn colour and late nectar sources for the Bees.
We managed to find a fairly wind free day and volunteers rallied to get the cover on. This wasn’t an easy task but we did it! Work has started on repairing and painting the donated staging and designing the inside. It won’t be too long and it will be a fully operational Polytunnel.
Awesome work everyone
Veg on the Hedge
This has been an idea in the making for a while and sees a trough fitted to the notice board at the Garden’s entrance, where volunteers will routinely be leaving produce for passers-by to help themselves to. So far there has been Raspberries, Tomatoes, Apples, Green Beans, Chard and Kale. So keep your eyes out, help yourselves and spread the word!
A number of the regular volunteers have been on their holidays this month, so we haven’t had the normal numbers but as usual, all the volunteers have been working hard and socially distanced on various projects.
We also welcomed the wonderful Gardener Steve broadcasting live for Erewash Sound’s Saturday Lunch and Gardening Show on the 19th. Unfortunately due to strong winds it wasn’t possible for any interviews to take place and as the only shelter we currently have is the Compost Toilet, yep you guessed it, Steve broadcast from in there!
The frame is now in place. Once Graham has made the doors, we will be able to fit the cover. We just need to wait for a day with no winds, otherwise you may spot one or two of us flying over Ilkeston!
We are enormously grateful to Jim Steele, Butterfly Conservation Officer for Derbyshire for taking the lead on planning and designing our Butterfly Bank in the meadow area. Jim was also able to secure funding from the Butterfly Conservation for the plants.
Sensory Garden and Paths
There has been some tidying up to do in the Sensory Garden from all the digging by our resident badger/s! We have harvested herbs from the Herb Bed and some of these were bundled up for passers-by to help themselves to. More plants have been added and we had Limestone aggregate left over from the Butterfly Bank, which means we have been able to continue with the main footpath leading away from the Sensory Garden to the Friendship Bench.
Team work! Tammy and Dawn fetching the aggregate ready for Graham to lay the path.
We welcomed Gardener Steve to the Garden on Saturday 19 September 2020 for the Saturday lunch show. Due to the strong winds it wasn’t possible for any of the volunteers to be interviewed and Steve had to broadcast from the glamourous compost toilet but we loved having him there and sharing our passion for the Garden.
It is hard to believe a year has passed since Shipley Parish Council granted the lease to SEAG to turn the 1.5 acre disused field on Hassock Lane South into a Community Garden but here we are and what a year it has been!
Volunteer numbers have continued to rise as have visitors to the Garden.
We would have loved to have held a celebration with you all at the Garden but this type of event has just not been possible this year. So instead two of our volunteers have been busy creating a video and special edition Newsletter to mark the occasion.
This is our way of saying thank you to all the volunteers, SEAG members, community, businesses and organisations that have supported the Community Garden over the last 12 months. We are looking forward to another exciting 12 months and hope you continue on this journey with us!
Thanks to Lynsey Beaumont for putting together the special edition Newsletter and Graham Kearton for another of his fantastic videos. Also thanks to Andy King, one of our supporters in Wiltshire for composing and playing the music in the video.
Well the initial hot weather and wet and windy weather for the rest of August hasn’t stopped progress at the garden. Seeing the garden full of colour and life in August has been very special as we approach the garden’s 1 year anniversary at the end of this month.
Since we are not able to safely hold a celebration this year, we are putting together a special 1 year anniversary newsletter to share with you all very soon.
We discovered lots of holes all over the garden and various different theories were put forward. The mystery was solved when the newly installed wildlife camera captured this!
We then strategically placed the camera where we thought the badger/s were entering the garden but our camera caught this chap/ess instead!
The creation of a Butterfly Bank is now in process, situated close to the Wildflower Meadow. We are extremely grateful for the expert advice and input from Jim Steele, Butterfly Conservation Officer for Derbyshire.
This bank should make a big contribution to butterfly conservation within the garden, providing a specialised habitat facing south that will be planted with specific, wild flower plants that are the caterpillar food plants of certain butterfly species, and it will also hold some nectar-rich flowers for various butterflies to feed upon. The bank is made primarily from cut turf usefully donated from the grassland that has had paths cut through it elsewhere in the garden. A topping of small, limestone aggregate is now being sought that will act as a mulch and also provide an alkaline soil environment that suits most of the plants intended for the bank. Plants will be planted through the aggregate into the up-turned turf below, and some seeding might also be carried out. The curved bank design should be more pleasing on the eye than a straight feature, and the various parts of the bank will benefit from sunlight at different times during the day. The bank will require maintenance and ‘fine tuning’ as we go along but it will surely be a worthwhile endeavour.
Jim Steele, Butterfly Conservation Officer for Derbyshire
We held the Big Butterfly Count on 1 August 2020 aided by Jim and Bob Deavin, local bird expert. We identified 9 different species – 2 large whites, 2 small whites, 2 green vein whites, 1 brimstone, 1 meadow brown, 2 gatekeepers, 1 comma and 1 small tortoiseshell. We are looking forward to comparing this data with next year’s once the Butterfly Bank and garden are more established.
The Sensory Garden is looking fantastic right now and we can actually say it is FINISHED! Well in so far as the landscaping, planting, mulching and different paths are now completed but as this is a garden, there will still be plenty to keep us occupied and develop further!
If you haven’t visited the garden yet or haven’t been for a while, be sure to come and visit and see the Sensory Garden in Summer with all its different colours, scents and textures.
Children’s Gardening Area
A specific area for children’s gardening has been started by one of our younger volunteers as part of his Duke of Edinburgh’s Award with the assistance from his lovely mum. The turf has been removed and Willow weaved to create the edging.
The raised beds have continued do really well and volunteers have been able to share plenty of produce already in our growing season. The squash has absolutely loved growing in the tractor tyre as have the tomatoes, which will be ready to be harvested soon. The raspberry bed in the food forest is full of berries at the moment and hopefully next year, the young fruit trees will be producing plenty of produce.
One of SEAG’s missions has always been to share the Garden’s produce with the community and our volunteer Ruth handed over some produce from the Garden to Marlpool United Reformed Church, which was added to food parcels put together by volunteers. This project is facilitated by FareShare and Rural Action Derbyshire. If you or anyone you know in the local community is in need of a food parcel, contact Yvonne on 07792 770512.
We launched the garden’s Friendship Bench on 15 August 2020 and welcomed our first visitors. You can read more here about the idea behind the Bench and how it came to be.
Other news …
On the 23 August 2020 we were joined by Barry Collins of BJ Collins Protected Species Surveyors and his family to talk to members and volunteers about potential ideas for the Garden to make it as wildlife friendly as possible. We are very grateful for Barry to give up his free time to share his expert advice and knowledge with us and we have lots more ideas to add to the list of projects to consider.
The Polytunnel has been delivered and work has started on preparing the area. We are super excited to get the Polytunnel built as this will mean we will be able to grow much more produce and plants and extend our growing season. Going into Winter it will also give us some shelter until our wooden structure is built.
A very special Elm Tree ‘Ademuz’, a rare wild Spanish Field Elm was donated and planted by Jim Steele. This will hopefully be there long after any of us!
SEAG is very pleased to announce the launch of our “Friendship Bench” at Shipley Woodside Community Garden, Hassock Lane South on Saturday 15th August 2020 10 am – 1 pm.
We are very grateful for the generous donations of two wooden seats, plant pots and funds to purchase the plants. Volunteers have made a planter to sit between the two seats to create the beautiful Friendship Bench. The two seats are adequately spaced to maintain social distancing during the COVID-19 restrictions.
Volunteers have worked hard to clear the area of turf, edged with wood and mulched with woodchip.
The Friendship Bench is in a perfect spot overlooking the sensory garden. On Wednesdays 1 – 4 pm and Saturdays 10 am – 1 pm when the garden is open, anybody is welcome to come in and enjoy the view. There will always be someone to greet you and show you around or to simply sit and talk.
The path to the Friendship Bench is well on the way to being wheelchair accessible and there is a small area for parking on site. We are carefully observing social distancing while we work on the garden so at the moment we can’t offer you a cuppa but we can offer you the chance to sit and chat if you would like to.
SEAG member and volunteer at the Community Garden, Nicky Godridge shares her vision for the Friendship Bench.
The idea began some time ago when I heard about a Friendship Bench on the local radio. I thought it was brilliant to know that there could be somewhere that anybody can go to and find somebody to chat with, the idea behind it being to reduce social isolation and improve mental wellbeing.
I looked at lots of places where a bench could be situated but the work involved in getting funding and generating interest seemed a bit of a mountain to climb, but when I suggested the idea to the other members, they all loved the idea and very soon we had the generous donations from members of the community who had heard about the vision and equally loved it, making the Friendship Bench become a reality.
Then came lockdown and for a few weeks the streets were empty and we had to halt volunteering at the Community Garden. After some time, it became possible for volunteering to start again with social distancing and other measures in place. We leave our gates open when we are on site and gradually more people paused from their daily exercise to have a look at what we were doing and chat.
I remember one conversation in particular, when a gentleman stopped just as I was closing the gate. He told me that he started work as a miner at Woodside as soon as he left school. We continued to have a lovely chat for about half an hour and I invited him to come back the next time he was walking nearby. I haven’t seen him again but now if he comes back we can offer him a seat and the chance to have another conversation.
The first official Red List for UK mammals was released at the end of July 2020 by the British Mammal Society. It highlights 11 native species from a range of habitats that are at risk of extinction. Some readers may be suprised to read that the hedgehog is amongst those species listed as being at risk of extinction.
This prompted SEAG members to really think whether we could do more to help our wildlife and that is when we found out about Naturehood, a community science research project from Earthwatch Europe, working to reverse wildlife decline and supporting nature to flourish all over the country.
By signing up and using the platform to tell Naturehood about the wildlife you see and the actions you take in your own Naturespace, you will be contributing to their scientific research and helping improve the health of our natural spaces.
Not only that, you can use their resources and activities to take positive action for wildlife in your own Naturespace and become part of a like-minded community helping nature thrive.
SEAG have joined and set Shipley Woodside Community Garden as our Naturespace. We have also created a specific group for Shipley, Derbyshire so as well as joining Naturehood and having access to the national live feed, you can also become part of your local group and share your wildlife pictures, videos, posts, events etc in the area. If there isn’t a group for your local area, you can join your closest or create your own group.
SEAG have already completed the baseline survey for the Community Garden and over time will be completing more of the Naturehood surveys to see how our efforts are helping the wildlife.