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 alilums 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 alilums 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).

Hail... a small army of barrowers!

What an extraordinary afternoon. Two of us got verily hailed on cycling to the garden, assuming no-one else was silly enough to join us.

But we ended up with six willing volunteers and two tea drinkers and got masses done.

At one point we had to take cover as another hailstorm deposited a layer of icy pearls all over the garden - and they also bounced into the club hut where we were scoffing cake and keeping warm with hot drinks.

But later on it was sunny and very beautiful.

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A swoosh of sterile mulch now just waiting to be sown with perennial seed mix. Lots of barrowing and raking. We will mulch the weeded beds too.

The new and old raised beds got a top mulch of soil conditioner too.

The new and old raised beds got a top mulch of soil conditioner too.

We planted a kiwi berry in the central bed. Eventually, it will give us a heavy crop of grape-sized kiwi-fruit tasting fruits, which don’t need peeling. We will need to make a climbing structure for it.

We planted a kiwi berry in the central bed. Eventually, it will give us a heavy crop of grape-sized kiwi-fruit tasting fruits, which don’t need peeling. We will need to make a climbing structure for it.

Beds for hungry veg will get a mulch too - here, the over-wintering garlic is growing well, before we put runner beans in later on.

Beds for hungry veg will get a mulch too - here, the over-wintering garlic is growing well, before we put runner beans in later on.

Spawn has arrived!

We had a good Gardeners Group meeting at lunchtime today, although we had to take cover to the club hut - the wind was very strong, cold and noisy. Notes to follow on the Gardening page.

First spotted on Saturday - and a large frog to go with it. They seem to like to lay it in the shallow parts of the pond.

First spotted on Saturday - and a large frog to go with it. They seem to like to lay it in the shallow parts of the pond.

The largest area of frogspawn. Lots of it.

The largest area of frogspawn. Lots of it.

We are enjoying these small daffodils. I think we need to plant more bulbs next year. They fill in a gap after snowdrops and before tulips. We have hyacinths coming into flower too.

We are enjoying these small daffodils. I think we need to plant more bulbs next year. They fill in a gap after snowdrops and before tulips. We have hyacinths coming into flower too.

We are doing lots of cutting back and weeding at the moment - to give new growth, such as this rhubarb and fennel  more space.

We are doing lots of cutting back and weeding at the moment - to give new growth, such as this rhubarb and fennel more space.

This early rhubarb is doing well - but we shouldn’t crop it too hard - it is still a baby plant - rescued from a nearby garden about to be bulldozed.

This early rhubarb is doing well - but we shouldn’t crop it too hard - it is still a baby plant - rescued from a nearby garden about to be bulldozed.

Justin’s garlic is doing well in the runner bean bed. I can spot some thistles too!

Justin’s garlic is doing well in the runner bean bed. I can spot some thistles too!