Some updates

Our signpost has been a LONG time in gestation. Thanks to Bob for the signwriting! And now our bumblebees (on the back of the sign) have no excuse to get lost on their way home...

Our signpost has been a LONG time in gestation. Thanks to Bob for the signwriting! And now our bumblebees (on the back of the sign) have no excuse to get lost on their way home...

We have been so busy recently, we haven't updated the website... and in some cases because it has taken us a while to finish things - or start them.

Some of the Patriotic annual Pictorial Meadow bed - with the new bug hotel (disguise for the water tower) in the background - still in progress.

Some of the Patriotic annual Pictorial Meadow bed - with the new bug hotel (disguise for the water tower) in the background - still in progress.

The Golden Summer perennial Pictorial Meadow bed is looking very lush and flowery now. We are supposed to crop it down to 10 cm again but it seems very cruel so we will wait until after our party on 27 August I think.

The Golden Summer perennial Pictorial Meadow bed is looking very lush and flowery now. We are supposed to crop it down to 10 cm again but it seems very cruel so we will wait until after our party on 27 August I think.

Our produce raised beds have been really good this year - their first year - until this weekend when blight attacked our tomato plants. We have harvested the green tomatoes and disposed of many of the plants but we thought we'd give these a few more days (without leaves) - in case the fruit will ripen on their plants. A sad day...

Our produce raised beds have been really good this year - their first year - until this weekend when blight attacked our tomato plants. We have harvested the green tomatoes and disposed of many of the plants but we thought we'd give these a few more days (without leaves) - in case the fruit will ripen on their plants. A sad day...

Blooms for bees - citizen science

The three colours of dahlia plus instructions...

The three colours of dahlia plus instructions...

Earlier this year, we registered with the Blooms for Bees citizen science project. This involved growing from seed three colours (white, red and purple) of Mignon Series dahlias. These are now growing well in small bed in front of the club hut (and we will put a poster up about them today).

They like the white flowers

They like the white flowers

These 'bedding dahlias' are 'single' (simple flowers), nectar-rich and known to be liked by bumblebees. The scientists now want to find out if these bees have a preference for flower colour. We are doing the survey by counting the number of bumblebees on each colour of flower for 5 minutes each.

And the red ones...

And the red ones...

If you'd like to do this too (you need to be a registered participant), send your counts to our garden volunteers at info@nightingalegarden.org.uk and we can enter them online for you.

You will need to tell us:

  1. On what date you did the count;
  2. The number of open flower heads included for each colour.
  3. The number of bumblebees on each colour in 5 mins each.
  4. If you can, identify the type of bumblebee (but this is quite tricky - they move fast!).
And the purple ones (which look pink to me)

And the purple ones (which look pink to me)

More info: www.bloomsforbees.co.uk

Or just enjoy watching bees on the flowers!

And across the path they like these cactus ones.

And across the path they like these cactus ones.

And two honey bees on this one

And two honey bees on this one

It is a bit addictive taking photos of bees on dahlias...

It is a bit addictive taking photos of bees on dahlias...

CCVS Rag Ballot - good news!

One of the new raingardens at Wulfstan Way - the plants like all the rain we have been having. Planted (and sowed) by 28th Cambridge cubs - with a bit of help from adults from Queen Edith's in Bloom and the RHS.

One of the new raingardens at Wulfstan Way - the plants like all the rain we have been having. Planted (and sowed) by 28th Cambridge cubs - with a bit of help from adults from Queen Edith's in Bloom and the RHS.

We have just heard our January application for funding to the CCVS Rag Ballot was successful. This means we will shortly have £200 to spend on gardening tools.

Our aspiration is to have a good range of strong tools that can be used in the community garden but also taken out to other greenspaces around the area. For example, we already take a range of tools and gloves of different sizes to the Wulfstan Way raingardens on Saturday mornings.

Shortly, we hope to start helping a group of parent volunteers and staff to make a new school garden at Queen Edith's primary school. From time to time, we also lend some of our tools to community groups, if we think they can be used safely.

Late July in the garden

We grow a mix of flowers and produce in the garden but at least some of the foods we allow to flower in case they are attractive to insects. Bees love globe artichokes! A single bumblebee can spend many minutes crawling over the purple flower, which gives ample opportunity for even an average camera phone to get at least one photo in focus.

We grow a mix of flowers and produce in the garden but at least some of the foods we allow to flower in case they are attractive to insects. Bees love globe artichokes! A single bumblebee can spend many minutes crawling over the purple flower, which gives ample opportunity for even an average camera phone to get at least one photo in focus.

Bees like sunflowers too.

Bees like sunflowers too.

For the second time, a family released their grown-from eggs painted lady butterflies in the garden. Apparently they hang around in the release spot for some time afterwards. We have seen some in the garden some days afterwards. 

For the second time, a family released their grown-from eggs painted lady butterflies in the garden. Apparently they hang around in the release spot for some time afterwards. We have seen some in the garden some days afterwards. 

Families like hunting for creatures in the garden - this was one of the best catches so far - a common frog - probably three or four years old - in the long grass.

Families like hunting for creatures in the garden - this was one of the best catches so far - a common frog - probably three or four years old - in the long grass.

We also make artificial habitats for wildlife. In this case, a disguise for our water tower. We drilled long holes of three diameters in recently cut branches - from local nature reserves and parks and brought to us by Guy and Vic. It is important you don't use chemically-treated wood for this - or the insects laying eggs might be harmed.

We also make artificial habitats for wildlife. In this case, a disguise for our water tower. We drilled long holes of three diameters in recently cut branches - from local nature reserves and parks and brought to us by Guy and Vic. It is important you don't use chemically-treated wood for this - or the insects laying eggs might be harmed.

Morning moths

Lesser elephant hawkmoth - the third year we have recorded this species - and always popular.

Lesser elephant hawkmoth - the third year we have recorded this species - and always popular.

We had a really good morning in the garden, opening up Guy's overnight moth trap. We think we had about 19 new species, not recorded in the past two years. We will send the records into local databases. The largest and most spectacular moths are the hawkmoths but the smaller ones are very beautiful too.

Some of the moths in the trap collect in egg boxes - there were masses of them this year.

Some of the moths in the trap collect in egg boxes - there were masses of them this year.

The moths like to settle on people, which is very endearing

The moths like to settle on people, which is very endearing

Sometimes they tickle a bit...

Sometimes they tickle a bit...

And some of them are massive. This is one of two poplar hawkmoths. We have a large poplar tree by the garden gate. The one we saw last year was a bit moth eaten but this one looked to be in mint condition.

And some of them are massive. This is one of two poplar hawkmoths. We have a large poplar tree by the garden gate. The one we saw last year was a bit moth eaten but this one looked to be in mint condition.

One of two stag beetles - very excited to see these because we have recently made a habitat especially for them.

One of two stag beetles - very excited to see these because we have recently made a habitat especially for them.

A click beetle, which refused to do the click beetle trick - jumping while making a click sound.

A click beetle, which refused to do the click beetle trick - jumping while making a click sound.

We had such a successful trap, Guy offered to return later in the Summer (probably September) to see what we have living in the garden then. We will post the dates and times on the QECF website.

Bats in the garden

Pond dipping

Pond dipping

We had a lovely evening talking about the pond, adding some more plants, sticklebacks and a dragonfly larva, setting up an overnight moth trap and bat watching and detecting. We saw and heard four species of bat this year:

A dragonfly larva gift to the pond. We have lots of dragonflies and damselflies visiting the pond and laying eggs so soon we can look out for some hatched in our pond.

A dragonfly larva gift to the pond. We have lots of dragonflies and damselflies visiting the pond and laying eggs so soon we can look out for some hatched in our pond.

  • Noctule, which is the largest we have, first to fly, high above the garden - rather like a swift - it feeds on the Light arches moths we caught in the trap.
  • Common pipestrelles - much smaller and later and lower flying (as it is getting dark) - a couple flew circuits low over the pond catching flies above our heads.
  • Serotine pair - larger than the pips and much rarer - Guy thinks there is a maternity roost in a building nearby.
  • Soprano pipestrelle - a new species for us in the garden and park.

Swimming around on the pond

Mrs Mallard and her ducklings, having a swim in the early evening sun

Mrs Mallard and her ducklings, having a swim in the early evening sun

On Wednesday, we spotted twelve baby ducklings and their mother swimming on the pond. But we shouldn't be surprised if they dwindle in number over the next few days and weeks.

According to our pond advisor: they should be eating insects (and not sliced bread) so please don't be tempted to feed them. Although they are very cute, we'd like them to fly (or waddle) away fairly soon or our pond will just become a muddy duck pond and we won't have good pond dipping opportunities.

Sometimes, you have to be cruel to be kind...

In fact, on Thursday, a similar sized group were spotted in a garden across the road from the park so maybe they are hunting for the safest place to be with the tastiest food (or had been reading this webpage).

Update 2 July: four ducklings spotted with their mother - and a visiting cat eyeing them up... hope they survived the encounter!

Cubs in the garden

Doughnut bubbles

Doughnut bubbles

As part of our RHS Greening Grey Britain project, we welcomed the Tuesday group of the 28th cubs along last evening. We:

  • Hunted for strawberries of several types;
  • Tasted some ripe blackcurrants;
  • Harvested a few baby carrots - and kept the tops for Emma's guinea pigs;
  • Pulled a straw bale to pieces and used it to mulch the strawberry and onion beds;
  • Planted some young lavender plants - with RHS gloves and tools;
  • Looked at the moth mullein caterpillars, which are munching the mullein plants - but didn't vomit at us.
  • Toasted some marshmallows and drank hot chocolate;
  • And perfected making giant bubbles, using RHS garden tubs.
White  'Snow White' strawberries (pineberries), with their new mulch. They are just starting (eat them when they are slightly yellow and soft) but were very popular - they are sweet and have a hint pineapple.

White  'Snow White' strawberries (pineberries), with their new mulch. They are just starting (eat them when they are slightly yellow and soft) but were very popular - they are sweet and have a hint pineapple.

It was really good to welcome back the cubs and their adult helpers on a warm Summer evening - the last time they came in November 2016 to plant crocus bulbs the weather was about as bad as it could be.

Big Walkers in the garden

Enjoying some simple food together in the garden

Enjoying some simple food together in the garden

On Weds 7 June, we welcomed a party of Big Walkers to the garden for a(n impromptu) Little Get-Together. These were people from the Eden Project/Jo Cox Foundation on their way from Batley to London for the Great Get-Together weekend.

We 'bring and shared' snacks from around the world and then tasted some delicious vegetarian Sri Lankan curries and rice. It was very chilled, the weather was good, and a good way to meet new people and make new friends.

We had invited garden volunteers, social walkers and local people interested in community projects especially those to do with loneliness and health. We also welcomed anyone who happened to be in the garden that evening...