Scarecrow day out

On Sunday 11 August, we had a day off gardening at Nightingale and ventured to Peterborough - to see our community gardening good friends at West Raven Garden. We also wanted to see how people do scarecrow making - in this case with wooden ‘cross’ supports, several bags of clothes from charity shops, a few bales of fresh straw, a big ball of twine, scissors and marker pens. Some people used white bin bags for heads - but also pale cloth (including T shirts) works well. Hats are very handy.

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The scariest scarecrow in the competition - we like his straw between his teeth.

A Nightingale gardener’s effort. Not sure she would scare anyone but at least her head stayed on her body. Perhaps she could handbag a crow. Great public art and a performance space behind her.

A Nightingale gardener’s effort. Not sure she would scare anyone but at least her head stayed on her body. Perhaps she could handbag a crow. Great public art and a performance space behind her.

The other Nightingale ‘crow. It was only the afternoon rain that prevented some of us bringing the charity shop clothes home to wear. Rabbit PJs anyone?

The other Nightingale ‘crow. It was only the afternoon rain that prevented some of us bringing the charity shop clothes home to wear. Rabbit PJs anyone?

I liked this bedtime ‘crow.

I liked this bedtime ‘crow.

A fun one, and you can see a bit more of the garden in the background - very good BBQ too!

A fun one, and you can see a bit more of the garden in the background - very good BBQ too!

Quite a buxom ‘crow - and you can see one of two ponds in the background - a nature pond but they also have a goldfish pond.

Quite a buxom ‘crow - and you can see one of two ponds in the background - a nature pond but they also have a goldfish pond.

Wasp spider

Spotted in the garden last week. We all got quite excited! More about this mini beast on the Buglife website.

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We also attempted to survey hedgehogs in the garden using a tunnel lent to us by Vic from the City Council (example on another website). This has some suitable food in the centre with some white paper either side and some masking tape attaching the paper to the base. The tape is painted with a vegetable oil and charcoal mix. When the hungry creature walks on the masking tape it will mark the white paper on the way out. We tried two places in the garden but just recorded a lot of mice feet and a couple of cat paws. It has been a long time since we saw hedgehog poo in the garden so maybe we don’t have any hedgehog visitors any longer. Let us know if you see them in the park after dark.

Where did July go?

I took lots of photos in July of first sunflowers, sweetpeas, sweetcorn, new signs, globe artichokes just coming into flower, baby newts but now they seem rather out of date. Think I need to take some new ones now!

End of July: there are lots of gatekeeper butterflies at the moment, especially on the flowering marjoram/oregano.  We should divide it and grow more of it - it is pretty, scented and handy in the kitchen -  and also popular with bees and butterflies. We also have a second flush of cinnabar moth caterpillars on some of the younger ragwort but also groundsel. Do look out for them - they are stripey brown and yellow.

End of July: there are lots of gatekeeper butterflies at the moment, especially on the flowering marjoram/oregano. We should divide it and grow more of it - it is pretty, scented and handy in the kitchen - and also popular with bees and butterflies. We also have a second flush of cinnabar moth caterpillars on some of the younger ragwort but also groundsel. Do look out for them - they are stripey brown and yellow.

Summer Solstice Get Together - got together

We were blessed by perfect weather and exceptionally good company - we think well over 80 people throughout the evening. We had a Scandinavian theme because it is their Midsummer Day on Friday 21 June - and because we like their outdoor-friendly customs and food.

We made a Swedish-ish Midsummer pole (with some extra slate weights on it because it was a bit wonky). And the children did little frog dances around it for us. Claire also made lots and lots of floral crowns with cornflowers from the garden - thank you!

We made a Swedish-ish Midsummer pole (with some extra slate weights on it because it was a bit wonky). And the children did little frog dances around it for us. Claire also made lots and lots of floral crowns with cornflowers from the garden - thank you!

As well as marshmallows, we did snobrod -   Danish Bonfire bread   on willow sticks grown on a local allotment and bamboo from the allotment shop. Thank you to Sam and Nicola for keeping everyone safe and having fun around the firebowl. And we had giant bubbles galore (  recipe we use  ).

As well as marshmallows, we did snobrod - Danish Bonfire bread on willow sticks grown on a local allotment and bamboo from the allotment shop. Thank you to Sam and Nicola for keeping everyone safe and having fun around the firebowl. And we had giant bubbles galore (recipe we use).

People came from as far as Peterborough - some top community gardeners - who are a great inspiration to us. And a new community gardening friend from St Neot’s, who we hope to continue to help and also to link with others.

People came from as far as Peterborough - some top community gardeners - who are a great inspiration to us. And a new community gardening friend from St Neot’s, who we hope to continue to help and also to link with others.

The bees enjoyed themselves too. The Viper’s bugloss is especially good in the Tuscan Hills perennial meadow bed at the moment.

The bees enjoyed themselves too. The Viper’s bugloss is especially good in the Tuscan Hills perennial meadow bed at the moment.

We had lots of delicious food and drink, both brought by people on the evening but also with a very generous donation from the Co-op in the Marque on Hill’s Road. It makes a massive difference having some staples to start us off. It means we don’t need to charge and so anyone can attend, even if they don’t have any cash on them at the time or are just walking past the garden and curious.

We had lots of delicious food and drink, both brought by people on the evening but also with a very generous donation from the Co-op in the Marque on Hill’s Road. It makes a massive difference having some staples to start us off. It means we don’t need to charge and so anyone can attend, even if they don’t have any cash on them at the time or are just walking past the garden and curious.

We had people who were pregnant up to those in their 90s enjoying the garden together - and from all nationalities and faiths. I think Jo Cox, who inspired these get togethers, would have liked that. Such a happy time in a beautiful garden. People came in family groups but also on their own or with friends. Making new connections and friends.

We had people who were pregnant up to those in their 90s enjoying the garden together - and from all nationalities and faiths. I think Jo Cox, who inspired these get togethers, would have liked that. Such a happy time in a beautiful garden. People came in family groups but also on their own or with friends. Making new connections and friends.

And it was good to see people just explore the garden, look at the plants, look for frogs, throw hoops around… Hope to see you all next year?

And it was good to see people just explore the garden, look at the plants, look for frogs, throw hoops around… Hope to see you all next year?

What a lot of rain!

Last year we were struggling with drought, this year we have cancelled sessions and very full water butts. But the roses are enjoying it. They have been selected for fragrance so do have a good sniff.

Last year we were struggling with drought, this year we have cancelled sessions and very full water butts. But the roses are enjoying it. They have been selected for fragrance so do have a good sniff.

Someone asked what the plants with the purple flowers were - potatoes! They are enjoying the rain too.

Someone asked what the plants with the purple flowers were - potatoes! They are enjoying the rain too.

We thought we’d lost the climbing clematis but it is emerging from under the sweet williams. The brighter green at the front is a herbaceous (non-climbing) clematis.

We thought we’d lost the climbing clematis but it is emerging from under the sweet williams. The brighter green at the front is a herbaceous (non-climbing) clematis.

On the shady side of the water tower we have a bed with foxgloves, looking rather damp after a night of rain - but a pretty apricot colour.

On the shady side of the water tower we have a bed with foxgloves, looking rather damp after a night of rain - but a pretty apricot colour.

The alpine box at the top of the minibeast mansion is looking very healthy too. Some alpine strawberries starting to ripen too.

The alpine box at the top of the minibeast mansion is looking very healthy too. Some alpine strawberries starting to ripen too.

Lots of pink fir apple potatoes - we might need to have a potato party in September.

Lots of pink fir apple potatoes - we might need to have a potato party in September.

I spent some time photographing out wildlife habitats and enjoyed this bee, plus solitary bee egg layings plus snail shot.

I spent some time photographing out wildlife habitats and enjoyed this bee, plus solitary bee egg layings plus snail shot.

Gardening in a changing climate

It is quite tough to garden with climate breakdown…   The RHS have a very good evidence-based   online report   about Gardening in a Changing Climate, and we have used this to structure some new information signs. These explain how we as gardeners can all respond to changes in climate (weather) - and what we, in this community garden, are doing to mitigate problems and also support biodiversity.    Sign 1: Green your living space - and plant a diverse range of plants  .    Sign 2: Compost garden and kitchen waste and water use and management.    We will continue work on some more signs, including around habitats for wildlife. We hope you find them of interest.

It is quite tough to garden with climate breakdown…

The RHS have a very good evidence-based online report about Gardening in a Changing Climate, and we have used this to structure some new information signs. These explain how we as gardeners can all respond to changes in climate (weather) - and what we, in this community garden, are doing to mitigate problems and also support biodiversity.

Sign 1: Green your living space - and plant a diverse range of plants.

Sign 2: Compost garden and kitchen waste and water use and management.

We will continue work on some more signs, including around habitats for wildlife. We hope you find them of interest.

Bumblebees

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Since 12 May, we have some bumblebees in residence in the garden - in one of our birds nest boxes. We think they might be tree bumblebees - they look ginger and white. We have put some signs up to explain that they will be with us for just a few months, that they won’t do us any harm but it is best to stay away from the immediate area. The nest will die back before winter and the queen will hibernate to look for another nest site next Spring.

This is a first for us and we are very lucky. Last year we had a bumblebee nest under the club hut but they looked like a different species. We also have lots of solitary bees laying eggs in the bughouses and the grass.

Our sign.

Further information on the Bumblebee Conservation website.

Feathers?

We still have some feathers in the garden, gently fading in colour. They are leftover from our Easter celebrations - a Swedish custom we learned about.

We still have some feathers in the garden, gently fading in colour. They are leftover from our Easter celebrations - a Swedish custom we learned about.

The garden is looking quite purple at the moment. Our favourite Purple Sensation alliums are starting to flower. Maybe not quite so large as in previous years - the weather wasn’t very kind last year.

The garden is looking quite purple at the moment. Our favourite Purple Sensation alliums are starting to flower. Maybe not quite so large as in previous years - the weather wasn’t very kind last year.

We have mown the area around the horse - a bit kinder to small children but it also helps us decide on new planting in the area. We’d like to put some more fruit bushes, maybe small trees. Possibly later in the year, especially if it is a hot, dry Summer again.

We have mown the area around the horse - a bit kinder to small children but it also helps us decide on new planting in the area. We’d like to put some more fruit bushes, maybe small trees. Possibly later in the year, especially if it is a hot, dry Summer again.

There is a lot of weeding to do in the garden all year around, especially after we have put small plants in. Or the California poppies, other annual seeds in the soil, and wind-sown grass just compete with them. We have two ‘bare earth beds’ that we will be sowing with perennial meadows soon. We are trying seeds called Super Pollinator this year. They are the last of the annual meadow beds and mean we shouldn’t need to re-sow now each year, which is much more sustainable and will take less work too.

There is a lot of weeding to do in the garden all year around, especially after we have put small plants in. Or the California poppies, other annual seeds in the soil, and wind-sown grass just compete with them. We have two ‘bare earth beds’ that we will be sowing with perennial meadows soon. We are trying seeds called Super Pollinator this year. They are the last of the annual meadow beds and mean we shouldn’t need to re-sow now each year, which is much more sustainable and will take less work too.

Full of promise for produce

We have more kinds of potatoes growing this year, in the ground, bags and pallet planters.

We have more kinds of potatoes growing this year, in the ground, bags and pallet planters.

We are trying out some ‘shelling beans’ this year, growing up our super-tall wigwam. Some are Greek giganti beans and we are trying borlotto and some other spotty beans. We won’t harvest the green pods for eating but let them dry and harvest them at the end of the season as beans inside dry pods. We will also have wigwams for runner and green beans in other places.

We are trying out some ‘shelling beans’ this year, growing up our super-tall wigwam. Some are Greek giganti beans and we are trying borlotto and some other spotty beans. We won’t harvest the green pods for eating but let them dry and harvest them at the end of the season as beans inside dry pods. We will also have wigwams for runner and green beans in other places.

Second try at sowing seeds. We sowed a lot of seeds a few weeks ag but had a very poor germination rate. It might have been too hot, too cold but there were some suspicious-looking (child sized) foot-shaped holes in the bed too. Also, if people water the seed beds without a rose on the can it washes the small seeds too deep. This time we have added some small plants too. Fingers crossed!

Second try at sowing seeds. We sowed a lot of seeds a few weeks ag but had a very poor germination rate. It might have been too hot, too cold but there were some suspicious-looking (child sized) foot-shaped holes in the bed too. Also, if people water the seed beds without a rose on the can it washes the small seeds too deep. This time we have added some small plants too. Fingers crossed!

Little Nightingales on Friday afternoons

The weather on Friday was wonderful, people came in Summer dresses. Lots of enthusiasm for watering, making pretend camp fires, teddy bear picnics, reading books. And we had lots of children from Queen Emma’s come to visit us too. We found some frogspawn, tadpoles and a couple of newts in a bucket to show everyone.

The weather on Friday was wonderful, people came in Summer dresses. Lots of enthusiasm for watering, making pretend camp fires, teddy bear picnics, reading books. And we had lots of children from Queen Emma’s come to visit us too. We found some frogspawn, tadpoles and a couple of newts in a bucket to show everyone.

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Last Sunday’s tadpoles - we looked up the pale brown ones and think they are baby newts. The black ones are different ages and frogs, we think.

The frogspawn is mainly hatched now and the tadpoles are swimming all over the pond so they are tricky to see and pick up now. We hope we will get some more spawn and the volunteers can carefully lift some for children to see. Please don’t go into the pond area yourself or it will get a bit over-trampled and the wildlife will probably leave the garden for calmer places!

Two large male newts from the pond. We think they are smooth newts. They have the best feet - with spotty socks. On Friday afternoon, we found two females who had no crest, fewer spots and much daintier feet (I forgot to take a photo).

Two large male newts from the pond. We think they are smooth newts. They have the best feet - with spotty socks. On Friday afternoon, we found two females who had no crest, fewer spots and much daintier feet (I forgot to take a photo).