Weekly Updates for July 2021

4th July

A week is said to be a long time in politics but the same applies equally to gardening. The arrival of rain and continuing warm temperatures have turbo charged the scale of growth at the Serpentine Garden over recent days and we now have towering broad bean and pea plants amongst others.
Our Supporters may not be up to date with developments regarding our new polytunnel.  An impressive new structure is taking shape where the old garage formerly stood and it will have its transparent cover very shortly.

The new polytunnel inevitably prompts thinking about how exactly it can best be used which coincides with a timely exercise entitled ‘Rooted in the Community.’ A consultant has taken an objective look at how the Serpentine Community Garden operates and has raised a range of issues for everyone involved to think about. On Wednesday members and volunteers were invited to view a display of ideas of how we might take forward what we do, particularly in terms of membership; links with other groups and the buildings on site. Those attending on Wednesday seemed to have plenty to say and stuck ‘post-it’ summaries of their views on a board.

Consultation continues and the ‘Rooted in the Community’ presentation remains in poly 2 where people can currently still add their ideas. Members and volunteers should find that you have the presentation papers electronically too. So please contribute our views so we can head forward in a direction which is both creative and has broad support.
We are starting to get a few things in the diary as we try to shake off the impact of covid 19.
Thanks to everyone who has already started to marshal plants on site in readiness for our participation in the Buxton Garden Trail on Saturday 24 July and Sunday 25. We will be open with arrangements designed to ensure a covid compliant visit.
From 1pm on 31July Club Acoustic will be holding their first ‘face to face’ event since March last year at the Serpentine Garden. The event is called ‘Live in the Sunshine’ and over a dozen performers are due to play. Tickets need to be pre booked via Eventbrite.

On site it’s busy. We are tidying up in readiness for the Garden Trail (visitors are always a good way of making sure some housework gets done!), weeding, making compost, watering, harvesting salads (the cucumber is excellent), topping up water butts, taking strawberry cuttings, clipping the tomatoes to ensure they get light, just to name a few things.

Well done to Patty who arrived in Sunday, donned her gloves, picked up a big bucket then went back out into the Serpentine Walk where she had encountered a considerable amount of detritus nearby left by disrespectful revellers. Tidiness is restored thanks to her.

11th July

The growing season is well into its stride now and this week the broad beans showing why they are Buxton Best and the peas are entering the limelight. The purple podded Stephens heritage peas have produced spectacular flowers and are now fattening up in purple pods. They offer a bean like taste. The magnum bonum peas in poly 2 will soon be ready too. The week has seen the first harvesting of lemon verbena. After a spell of drying they will make lovely herbal tea later in the year.

Steve T has continued to build the support structure for our new polytunnel. This one is proving to be far more complex than the two we currently have but once finished it will be more sophisticated with better ventilation. Helen is continuing to keep composting going, mixing the green and brown with comfrey added as an excellent activator.

The ‘Rooted in the Community’ exercise mentioned in last week’s email is still open to your ideas so please have your say.

Growing Well is an eight-week wellbeing programme supporting people to connect to nature in the Serpentine Community Garden, learn new skills and socialise. It particularly benefits those wishing to improve their mental health, and reduce anxiety and depression. We are working with NHS social prescribers, local surgeries and mental health services to offer access to the programme which we are running each Monday. The leaders are members Langley, Melissa, Carole and Pete. If you see labelled “Growing Well” seedlings or materials in the Garden that is the Growing Well group. If you are interested in assisting in some way please reply to this email and we will link you with one of the leaders. We also need someone to help add our programme to the Projects page of the website, if you can help.

18th July

The full skip was removed during the week. That is a milestone because we have been getting rid of road maintenance detritus for years. The area where we now have the benches (thank you to the group giving them a clean next week) was until a couple of years ago a heap of road cones and junk until Joe Dugdale organised a working party. This week’s skip driver used to work for the Council and couldn’t resist taking a stroll round. He was amazed at how the SCG is thriving and this it testimony to the commitment and hard work of very volunteer who reads this email. He also added that the Council used to need a weekly skip collection. Let’s see if our way of doing things doesn’t require a skip for a long time, if ever.

We are looking out for people who can help take our work forward. I mentioned last time that we need someone to help add the ‘Growing Well’ programme to the Projects page of the website and I think we are still looking. In similar vein we are appealing for someone to take a lead on planning of rotation of crops in raised beds B, C and D. Also planning of the potager plus organisation of the seed swap event. We have in the past bought in plug plants, brought them on and put them out in the community. Once again a lead person on this would be so useful. Lots of specific jobs for which someone could make a big contribution by offering to have a go. There is a lot of expertise within SCG so you wouldn’t be out on your own without support.

Finally out on site the effort has been about watering (no wonder as topping out at 43.5 c in poly 2); tidying up the site for the Garden trail (weeding, trimming, replacing stuff which hasn’t taken eg broccoli); cropping e.g. cavolo nero, courgettes, broad beans, peas and salads.

25th July

It seems a bit like normal summer times with working groups and events happening.

The latest workshop took place on Wednesday. The topic was sampling edible flowers, a variety of which was duly munched including rose, sunflower, begonia and carnation. The flowers were accompanied by home made elder flower cordial with borage ice cubes. Many thanks to Gil and John for organising and leading this event.

During the week the focus of work on site has been on watering as the High Peak continues its drought while we watch on TV the impact of downpours both nationally and internationally.

We were all in housekeeping mode too as the weekend approached and we were nice and tidy by Saturday in time to take part in the Buxton Garden Trail.  During the weekend we welcomed well over 200 visitors who seemed to enjoy our Garden. Visitors always ask questions which make you think about what you are doing and our knowledge of everything from fava beans to managing compost toilets has been tested. I am not sure yet how much we raised in donations but the cash box was looking healthy. We have recruited at least two more volunteers and a number of visitors have put their names on the circulation list for these email updates and we are pleased that people are interested to know what we are up to. Thanks to everyone who contributed to the Garden Trail in terms of time or plants.

The Buxton Fringe awards event followed immediately after we closed up the Garden Trail.

Next Saturday Club Acoustic’s ‘Live in the Sunshine’ event takes place at the Serpentine Community Garden. Tickets pre booked via Eventbrite and I think may now be pretty much sold out.

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