Harvest festival... and a bit of planting

Our first frost was last night and it felled most of the dahlias and cosmos, which were looking splendid the day before. This is a bit earlier than in previous years - usually around bonfire night. Always a bit sad and it feels like winter is on the way. But we did some harvesting and also planting for next year, which seems a bit more forward looking.

We haven’t grown shelling beans before. We tried several kinds including Greek giganti (white butter bean like) and borlotti and a couple of mystery ones from a volunteer. Not exactly a giganti crop but they are very pretty. Maybe we should grow them just for making ear rings…

We haven’t grown shelling beans before. We tried several kinds including Greek giganti (white butter bean like) and borlotti and a couple of mystery ones from a volunteer. Not exactly a giganti crop but they are very pretty. Maybe we should grow them just for making ear rings…

Most of our winter squash crop taking the air - they were getting a bit damp in the club hut. All selected for taste: Queensland Blue, Crown Prince, Musquee de Provence and (I think) Blu Kuri. They will be moved somewhere less damp and used for community eating over the next few months.

Most of our winter squash crop taking the air - they were getting a bit damp in the club hut. All selected for taste: Queensland Blue, Crown Prince, Musquee de Provence and (I think) Blu Kuri. They will be moved somewhere less damp and used for community eating over the next few months.

We did a bit of re-planting of the mini-beast mansion top with some sedums and alpine strawberries, grown from seed. If anyone has any spare pasque (pulsatilla) plants, we’d love some. We have one lonely plant, which has done well but could do with some friends. We also planted up around the water tower, including with a self-layered clematis.

We did a bit of re-planting of the mini-beast mansion top with some sedums and alpine strawberries, grown from seed. If anyone has any spare pasque (pulsatilla) plants, we’d love some. We have one lonely plant, which has done well but could do with some friends. We also planted up around the water tower, including with a self-layered clematis.

New page on Facebook

One of about three cats you might meet in the garden. Dogs on leads are also welcome.

One of about three cats you might meet in the garden. Dogs on leads are also welcome.

[We aren’t very ‘social media’… we tend to post things on other pages and also talk to each other face to face].

Today, we have started a new Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/NightingaleGardenCambridgeUK

A long name but, to our surprise, there are several Nightingale community gardens and groups - maybe we should do a tour? Hopefully, we will remain the only one in Cambridge UK.

We will aim to put updates and events on the Facebook page but do check the website home page for weather reports and cancellations.

Looking forward to having a polytunnel

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We had a very useful Group meeting recently (notes are on the gardening page).

One item was to discuss the size and function of the polytunnel, which was funded (with S106 contributions) in June 2019.

We aim to order it in February 2020, and site it in front of the trees to the East of the club hut.

It will be 12 x 20 ft and have one side with a low bed for growing produce in the Summer, with staging above it in Spring and over winter. We will keep most of the area weed protected so we can use it flexibly for pots and also for learning sessions (and meetings). It will have double sliding doors at both ends so it can be accessible to wheelchairs and scooters. Looking forward to growing in it - especially since we seem to have rain most days at the moment…

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.