In May 2022 the Garden hosted its second Greenfolk Festival and members of Shipley Eco Action Group and volunteers were interviewed for a feature in the GreenSPring Project about green social prescribing. Hear from those involved about how and why the Garden came to be and how the space is used for green social prescribing. The weather couldn’t have been better for filming and we had a fantastic event that day. It is hard to believe only 2.5 years before this was filmed, the area was just a field and now it is a beautiful productive space, bringing the community together.
In 2021 SEAG volunteers came together and made up hampers that were delivered to local care homes. This year volunteers put together an amazing 60 plus hampers, which were distributed to residents in the most need in Cotmanhay and Ilkeston by the young people from The Pod, Action4Cotmanhay and East Midlands Housing.
Over a number of weeks volunteers collected boxes, gift bags and materials to decorate the hampers, made crafts and preserves and donated items. Our fabulous friends at Warburtons and Co-op also donated food items to the hampers.
Donations of items that can be used for Christmas hampers in 2023 are always welcome. Some great items include:
- Tea bags
- Tinned food (anything with a long shelf life)
- Warm socks
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!
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.
Freezing fog didn’t deter us helping out at the Youth Forest tree planting morning. A great turn out for the Woodland Trust and the 1000 tree plantation.
Wow-What an achievement today!
Noticeboard up, seat uncovered from brambles, neighbouring conifer hedge cut, roadside path widened, pallet wood compost bins x3 erected, raised bed x 9 started, paths in meadow and social/event area mown, haybales moved and positioned (for trees in the Forest garden, pond etc) Areas staked and labelled, health and safety checks, signing in and disclaimer sheets completed by volunteers. PHEW!
Also plenty of ideas, enthusiasm and future plans shared over chocolate and raspberry brownies (OMG yom!) and tea.
Really blessed with sunshine and laughter. A great morning. Many thanks to everyone who helped, supported or just visited. Our community is growing. 👏👏
If you can spare an hour or two on a Saturday morning we would love to see you.