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 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.
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!
We are absolutely delighted with the progress made this month. Volunteers have continued to work safely, socially distancing and taking necessary precautions by not sharing tools and disinfecting. We have welcomed new visitors and volunteers and have loved meeting you all.
All the planted fruit trees, raspberries, grasses, herbs and perennials are doing really well. Even those donated by a local garden centre that would have otherwise been thrown out, have in the main come back to life. That could be down to the warm and wet July we have had or the loving way some of our volunteers talk to them – either way we are very happy!
Main access paths
The main wheelchair accessible path up to the sensory garden and centre circle is now finished. This was a huge effort by four of our volunteers. The path was all marked out, turf removed, the ground levelled, edged with wooden strips, weed membrane laid to suppress any weeds, MOT type 1 put down and then compacted with the whacker plate, which has been generously loaned to the garden by a member of the community.
The next phase of the path leading from the sensory garden up to the social area, where a barn structure will be situated has been marked out and turf lifted. At the rate our volunteers are working, no doubt they will have this finished in a couple of days!
The shed has been painted, separator toilet installed, plumbed in and signage in place. Yes a separator does exactly what you are thinking – it separates the ones and two’s! The ones are separated into a soak away, which has been dug in the land and the twos into a bucket which after each use is covered by wood shavings and sawdust, which means it doesn’t smell. This waste composts down into humanure, which is a fantastic compost suitable for trees and bushes. You can read more here about how a compost toilet works.
The sensory garden is looking fantastic right now. More of the different path edging has been completed, a start made on removing turf in the sunflower and hot beds, mulching, weeding and more planting.
Upcycling in action! Galvanised pots and pans for planting and oven dish with a solar powered pump to create this lovely water feature.
Vegetables have been harvested from the raised beds for volunteers, with lots more still to come and the young trees have done well, with some fruit now appearing.
Bird and Bat Boxes
Many thanks to Derbyshire Wildlife Trust’s Woodside Farm in Shipley Park for donating bat and bird boxes for use at the garden. These have now been erected and we shall be eagerly watching these for signs of use.
Other news …
Jim Steele, Butterfly Conservation Officer for Derbyshire has been offering his expert advice and support so that we can attract more butterflies to the garden. With Jim’s input we have planned a butterfly bank in the wildflower meadow and started to build this with sods removed from the main path.
A specific area for children’s gardening has been started by one of our young volunteers as part of his Duke of Edinburgh’s Award.
The tree of life and yin and yang sign are looking amazing in the meadow area thanks to the dedication of one volunteer to keep this area mowed and the grass around has grown longer.
The staging for the polytunnel, which is coming soon, has been refurbished and painted.
Discounted woodchip supplied from LSJ Services, which we use to mulch everywhere to suppress the weeds and help plants and trees retain moisture.
Finally, a big thank youfor all the donations and discounted items we have received this month. We really couldn’t achieve so much if it wasn’t for the generosity and support of the local community and businesses.