Weekly Reports for November 2019

3 & 6 November

Frost has meant the leaves have steadily fallen across the Pavilion Gardens and our friends from HPBC have therefore been able to deliver two loads to fill our bays and start the process of converting to leaf mould. They look a particularly good mix and are much appreciated. Shifting stuff to free up the right space for them has kept volunteers busy, and warm, and also a lot of tidying up has happened. Each cleared space starts us thinking of what will be filling it next year. The base of the newly completed octagonal planter has been levelled – no small feat given it holds four tons of growing media! We have taken some care to gather ash leaves and store them in a separate “noxious” area to reduce the risk of spreading the die back disease. It may have limited effect, but every little helps. Undaunted by slow and late ripening tomatoes, we have harvested a great crop for green tomato chutney. Nothing is wasted at Serpentine.

10 & 13 November

From John Boardman…..When we opened up on Sunday, the water butts were covered in a layer of ice. Yet as we checked out the site we found the fava (field) beans were pushing their way up through the frozen ground. We grow tough beans in Buxton – the sight made us feel good. To that excitement was added the arrival of two metal arches, given by a Serpentine friend. Now the challenge is agreeing where best to put them! We also visited Stockport Community Growers at Woodbank Park and came home with some horseradish roots and a globe artichoke. Wherever we turn, we find generous and supportive people. To ensure we can make the most of these gifts, the team continues to plan the next big clearance and build projects to occupy us over the winter. Anyone interested in planning a pottager?

From Margot Ferris….On Wednesday the birds sang and swooped and both they and volunteers were cheered by the dry weather. We made the most of the good day by working outside. We moved old leaves and new, moved wetter material indoors to help dry out and we sieved soil improver and leaves, filling tubs and buckets galore. Compost bins were filled. We also welcomed a walking group from Golding Grange in Matlock, led by National Park Rangers, who enjoyed a tour and a place to have a tea break. They are other walking groups are welcome back any time.

10 & 13 November 2019

“I came a few weeks ago and you let me harvest some comfrey leaves to make a poultice for my ankle. I just wanted to say it worked really well – you can see I’m not limping anymore.” Developing a ‘physic garden’ has moved up our agenda. The team has continued to do great work shifting leaves to storage areas, sieving leaves and soil improver and mixing potting and sowing composts ready for the spring. A bit of a break on Wednesday as John delivered the talk he and Gil have been giving to various organisations over the year. They talked about the history of the site and their aim that it should deliver “Wow”, “Never Knew” and “Takeaway”. The Mesolithic flints, the Inniskilling Regiment clay pipe bowl, and the stone hand axes made of serpentine rock delivered all of these and we will take away unforgettable memories. And we continued our response to the challenge of mitigating ash dieback by sowing further local tree seeds. Yesterday, today and tomorrow are all present at Serpentine.

24 & 27 November 2019

We have been “winterising” the site, clearing out the beds of spent plants, mulching, tidying and cleaning under and over benches and shelves. It is looking steadily tidier, but also clearly “dormant”. But we continue to look forward and get excited by our plans. There is a first draft plan for next year’s sowing and growing – over 150 varieties and where they should go – and plans for projects to be completed over the next two months. We are exploring in more detail how we can contribute to the Buxton Civic Association tree seed germination and growing on project. And we are planning a “potager” – a larger octagonal planter that will provide a snapshot of everything we grow, every plant with a purpose and in a colourful arrangement aimed to delight and inspire. A dream to turn in to a real design over the winter. And for rainy days, we now have a stack of seeds ready to be put into packets ahead of next February’s Seedy Saturday.

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