Heyford Gardening Club – July 2019

Heyford-Gardening-Cluband-allotments

Our June meeting featured a fascinating talk by Steve Brown on bonsai; a form of gardening which verges on an art form. I always think of it as extreme topiary.

Rose Show

Despite the tempestuous weather there was a good showing for the rose show with 57 entries.

Pauline Guglielmi won the single flowered class, Brian Jackson came second with John Dunkley and Tony Clewett in joint third place.

In the cluster flowered class Jill Langrish came first, Pauline Guglielmi was second
and Val Jackson, Rosemary Dunkley and Anne Haynes all tied for third place.

The perils of perlite

Following advice in the RHS magazine I have over the last few years added vermiculite to multi purpose compost for sowing seeds and taking cuttings. This proved extremely successful producing plants with vigorous root systems which established very quickly. Last year however instead of vermiculite I used perlite which, I assumed, would do the same thing. However I experienced a lot of difficulty; seedlings germinated quickly enough but then failed to develop properly and cuttings just didn’t root.

I can’t be sure that this was entirely due to the perlite, but having gone back to using vermiculite again, the results have improved significantly. This illustrates the principle that in gardening apparently small variations in conditions can make the difference between success and failure.

Weird Weather-again!

Following a baking Easter, a freezing May, and no rain for months suddenly the
heavens have opened and given us the whole summers rain in a few days. It’s a
wonder that we can grow anything!

Some Things to do in July

1. Dead head roses, bedding plants and perennials to get more flowers.
2. Pick courgette’s before they turn into marrows (unless you like marrows)
3. Water and feed plants in containers

Mark Newstead

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www.heyfordgardenclub.com

For more information visit the Heyford Gardening Club & Allotments page

Heyford-Gardening-Cluband-allotments

Nether Heyford Community Wildlife Area – July 2019

Take the time to just stand back and watch the bees in your garden and you will be amazed at their variety. Its the sound they make that is so wonderful, from the high pitched hum of a bee swimming in the stamens of a poppy to the deep drone of a queen bumblebee.

On the wildlife patch on the allotments I have counted ten different types of bee so far. They come in all shapes and sizes ranging from the tiny “hairy footed flower bee” (I think that is the best name ever) that darts about and hovers in front of flowers. The females are black with orange hairs on their back legs for collecting pollen. Red and buff tailed bumble bees on the other hand seem huge in comparison, and the flowers bend under their weight. Honey bees and bumble bees are social insects, where the queen lays eggs and daughter workers do all the work. Solitary bees work on their own and make their own nests in different locations, from a hole in the ground or brick or cob wall. You will often find their holes grouped together but each nest is completely separate.

Amongst the bees that I have spotted so far are two that are called nomad bees that on first sight appear to be tiny wasps for they have bright yellow and black markings, but in fact they parasitise solitary bee’s nests. They lay an egg inside host’s nest and the nomad grub then destroys the host’s egg or grub and proceeds to feed on the food store.

The best thing we can all do for bees is to grow a variety of flowers in our gardens particularly those which flower early and late so providing nectar for the longest possible period. Different species of bees have tongues of different lengths so need flowers of different lengths of tube. This doesn’t stop some short tongued bees from cheating. You can see this happening if you stand by a clump of comfrey; not all the bees will be entering the flowers but some will bite a hole at top of the flower to get the nectar. This unfortunately prevents the flower from being pollinated.

For the allotment holders having such a number and variety of bees in the wildlife patch is good news for they will be out and about pollinating the fruit and vegetables. The best crop of runner beans we ever had was when the beans were planted next to our lavender bushes (a good reason to grow some flowers amongst the vegetables, which also looks beautiful).

To make a solitary bee nest site:
1. Cut the top off a plastic drinks bottle.
2. Fill the bottle with lengths of hollow woody plant stems, reed stems or bamboo cane to make lots of tunnels for the bees to crawl into and make their nests.
3. Hang the bottle up in the garden (at a slight angle so the rain doesn’t get in) where it will get some sun but not be baked all day..

Mary Newstead

Revitalising the Allotments – June 2019

A lot to do
There is so much to do on the allotment (and in the garden) at this time of the year that writing is a luxury I can’t afford at the moment. So I’ll be brief.

Community Orchard
The trees continue to grow on well. There has been a good deal of blossom and all the trees are now in leaf. Fingers crossed things stay that way. Several new trees have also been added to our collection, now bringing our total to 31 (plus a further 7 trees in the hedgerow between the orchard and new playing field).

Those of you who have been down to the community orchard may have noted that the ground around the trees is now sprouting a collection of grasses and wild plants – some might even call them weeds. Once this undergrowth has established itself a little more we shall begin mowing it. Like the community area we created alongside the orchard, this will become a meadow that we will further enhance by creating pockets of wild flowers.

Looking Good
A villager who lives near to the allotment spoke to me the other day and commented on how attractive and cared for the allotments had become in the past year or so. Paths are mown, edges trimmed, sheds erected and, most importantly, plots are being cultivated and fruit and veg grown. This welcome news was completely unprompted and a real indicator of just how much progress has been made in in refurbishing the village allotments. Again, we would like to take this opportunity to thank all those allotmenteers who continue to tend their plots and make the site such a productive and well managed space. Not everyone can spare the time to join a working party or attend a meeting, but their vital contribution, caring for the plots, is just as important.

Notice Boards
Do keep an eye on our allotment notice boards (situated by the gate on Watery
Lane and by the last gate on the access road to the playing fields). We try to keep allotmenteers and villagers informed about what is happening. If you would like to impart a horticultural message that fellow growers might find of use then do feel free to use the board. Free produce? Seeds or plants going spare? Equipment you no longer require? Already we have had one allotmenteer who mislaid a well loved garden tool reunited with it as a result of a message on the board board.

Wild Life Area
Thanks to the hard work of Dave Musson and Mary and Mark Newstead, our
wildlife area is developing well. Dave has written an informative piece about this for the current edition of the Prattler so I will not steal his thunder by waxing lyrical about it here. Needless to say, the area is another positive feature of the work being carried out on the site.

Tester Plots and Renting and Allotment
If you are interested in trying out allotmenteering contact either Sue Corner on
01327 342124 or Lynda Eales on 01327 341707. We can offer a range of allotment
sizes, to suit every need. Help is also on hand to offer advice and encouragement.

Food for Thought
A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall
never sit in.— Greek proverb

Mike Langrish

Nether Heyford Community Wildlife Area – June 2019

Some readers will be aware that a group of vacant allotments have been taken out
of commission to be used as a “Wildlife Area”. In the same way that the Community Orchard is a project undertaken on behalf of the community as a whole, this Wildlife Area is also a Community Wildlife Area. The following is brief explanation of the “Hows and Whys” of the project to bring readers up to date with progress and to outline plans for the future development of this area.

Who is doing this? Under the umbrella of the NHPC Allotment Committee Mark and Mary Newstead and Pauline Musson with me overseeing are using our knowledge and expertise to plan, manage and develop this project from concept to fruition. We expect to involve others when necessary as appropriate as the project develops.

What are we doing? We are providing a safe area where local wildlife will be able to live, flourish and be enjoyed by our Community.

Why are we doing this? A recent study by 30 scientists has concluded that Right now our Natural World is at more risk than at any time since Human Beings first walked this Earth. Whilst we cannot change the world, we can change a bit of Nether Heyford to form an area where our local wildlife (plants and animals) will be safe and able to increase rather than decrease. Not only will this benefit our wonderful wildlife but it has been proven that being able to spend time in such an area (however small) benefits our own health and well being.

Where are we doing it? A patch of about 5 vacant allotments forms a rough triangle toward the Sports Field end of the Allotment field along the Watery Lane Hedge Border. This patch has been taken out of allotment use to form the Wildlife area.

How are we doing this? It is a known fact that if one provides the habitat, the wildlife will move in to make use of it. For example, nesting boxes were in use within hours of being put on our site. With this in mind we have chosen to provide a range of connected habitats that seek to restore the area to a state in which it may have been many years before it was ploughed or became allotments.

We know that a brook ran down that side of the field. We cannot provide a brook so we have planned a Wildlife Pond in the Area. There will be three other main
habitats. Sown along the length of the hedge, to a depth of up to 3m will be plants associated with hedgerows. This will be mown once a year. Other areas will be Wildflower Meadow which will also be mown once a year. We intend to establish “Tussock Areas” which will not be mown at all. These latter provide invaluable habitat for small mammals with many insects and other invertebrates benefiting from the undisturbed life. There will also be a wildflower lawn square with seating, surrounded by small trees to provide a peaceful area. This will all be achieved by using purpose designed seeds mixtures which are readily available on the open market and good management.

When will we do all this and how long will it take? We have already started the work and are busy recording the current Flora and Fauna for future reference. The area has been fenced off and pathways cut into the grass and the seating area has been mown. We have no wish to destroy any wildlife that already occupies the area and all development will be gradual, enabling life to move to suitable areas as patches become bare before replanting. If you were to visit this summer there will be an allotment size patch of old fashioned Arable Field Wildflowers in bloom. This patch will be re-sown with a Meadow Mixture in autumn to grow on in 2020.

The Pond should also be in place and some planting and landscaping around it.
There will be areas covered in plastic sheeting. This is to kill the present flora in order for us to sow these areas with appropriate mixtures in autumn 2019. We don`t expect the whole area to be sown till the autumn of 2020 or even 2021.

Unfortunately we have not yet established safe and sensible, unescorted public access to the Wildlife Area. This will come in the future. In the meantime we would be very pleased to welcome interested visitors. If you would like to visit the area please feel free to contact me on 01327 344461 or e-mail davemusson073@gmail.com

I would be glad to arrange an escorted visit with myself or another team member.

Dave Musson

Heyford Gardening Club – June 2019

Heyford-Gardening-Cluband-allotments

At our May meeting we had the pleasure of a talk by Teresa Wedderburn of Branch
Out MK, a not for profit company which provides gardening therapy for people with
learning difficulties and autism. They are based at York House in Stony Stratford
and anyone passing that area is welcome to call in and see their work for
themselves. They also have a range of goods for sale including cut flowers, herbal
teas and pot pourri’s.

Spring Flower Show
Due to an administrative mix up a number of members arrived with entries for a
spring flower competition which should have been cancelled, so we went ahead
anyway with an impromptu show which was won by Anne Haynes’ lush display,
closely followed by Maureen Wright’s elegant pink flowered lily of the valley.
Our June 10th meeting will feature a talk on bonsai by Steve Brown and we
definitely will have our annual rose show, which has two classes; single flowered
varieties and cluster flowered varieties, in the first case a single bloom is required; in the second a single spray.

New Arrivals
Recently we spotted in our garden an unusual looking bumble bee. This turned out
to be a tree bumble bee, a recently arrived species from the continent which has
been spreading rapidly through the country mainly because it doesn’t have the
natural enemies of our native bees (which are mainly a race of parasitic bumble
bees called cuckoo bees). These tree bumble bees, as the name suggests, like to
nest in holes high in trees and sometimes use empty bird boxes. Rather less
welcome, we found on our allotment some brightly coloured beetles with a black and white cross pattern on their backs and red heads and legs. These are asparagus
beetles, so if you grow asparagus look out for this pest as they can cause a lot of
damage.

Weather
The warmest Easter on record has been followed by the coldest May bank holiday.
Britain has four seasons; spring, summer, autumn and winter, but not necessarily in
that order! However this year despite the weather all the carrots I have sowed have
germinated and grown well, unlike the previous year when I managed to produce
the magnificent total of two carrots.

Some Things to do in June
1. Start to take soft wood cuttings of shrubs and perennials
2. It’s now safe to put out tender bedding plants and vegetables
3. Prune spring flowering shrubs.

Mark Newstead

www.heyfordgardenclub.com

For more information visit the Heyford Gardening Club & Allotments page

Heyford-Gardening-Cluband-allotments

Heyford Gardening Club – May 2019

Heyford-Gardening-Cluband-allotments

At our April meeting we expected to welcome the return of Patsy Rayner, but unfortunately due to a family illness she was unable to attend so Mike Langrish and Tom Dodd put together a presentation on the Community Orchard and the improvements that have been made (and are still being made) to Heyford’s allotments.

The evening also featured our annual tulip bench show. For once the weather has been good for us and there were plenty of entries with some impressive blooms on show.

The large flowered section was won by Pauline Guglielmi, John Dunkley came second and John Wilson came third.

The Small flowered section was won jointly by John Dunkley and Val Jackson, and Jill Langrish got third place.

Our next meeting will be on 13th May when someone from Branch Out MK will talk to us about “Helping People to Grow Through Gardening”.

April is the cruellest month…
At time of writing we’ve just experienced an odd week of weather. After the unseasonable warmth in February the last few days have featured nightly frosts and sunny periods with cold air. These sort of conditions can be very challenging for gardeners damaging fruit blossom and early flowers; it has even pinched shoots of ivy and box. If you like me are growing plants in an unheated greenhouse it is important to keep one eye on the weather all the time as failing to close the house up at night can risk losing tender plants to cold while not opening them during sunny spells can cause the temperature inside to soar to damaging levels despite the chilliness outside. Apparently next week will be much warmer; perhaps I will be able to start sowing the tender crops for the summer after all.

Some Things to do in May
1 Repot cacti, succulents and house plants.
2 Divide and replant spring flowering bulbs
3 Keep a watch for lily beetles and viburnum beetles

Mark Newstead

www.heyfordgardenclub.com

For more information visit the Heyford Gardening Club & Allotments page

Heyford-Gardening-Cluband-allotments

Heyford Gardening Club – Events 2019

Heyford-Gardening-Cluband-allotments

Heyford Gardening Club & Allotments 

Programme of Events for 2019:

March 11th: Liz Taylor from Woodland Trust; Mini Show – Daffodils

April 8th: Patsy Raynor – Plants in Literature: Origins & Anecdotes; Mini Show – Tulips

May 13th: Branch Out MK –Helping People to Grow Through Gardening; Seed Swap; Mini Show – Spring Flowers

June 8th: Village Fete

June 10th: Steve Brown, Bonsai Trees or Graham Pavey, Vertical Gardens; Mini Show – Roses

July: Summer Party

August: No Meeting

September 9th: Autumn Show

October 14th: Malcolm Dickson Hooksgreen Herbs

November 11th: Caroline Tait – Fellow of Longwood Gardens, Philadelphia, A Year at Longwood

December 9th: Christmas Tree Festival; Snowdrops

Mark Newstead 

www.heyfordgardenclub.com

For more information visit the Heyford Gardening Club & Allotments page

Heyford-Gardening-Cluband-allotments