Working Notes - February 2023

26 February: A week of windy weather had left its mark on the garden, but nothing our volunteers couldn’t handle in a breeze. The majority of fallen leaves have been raked and added to our compost bays, ready for topping up our raised beds. There has also been plenty of pruning of our fruit trees and autumn raspberries, as well as some good general housekeeping within the flower beds.

Seed plans have been printed up and are posted in Poly 3 for everyone to keep updated with, and across the site we have raised bed blueprints hung in relevant poly-tunnels. Elsewhere in Poly 3 we have a print out of the minutes from the Trustee’s meeting as well as some volunteer review forms which can be filled out and handed in to your day organiser.

For those of an artistic nature we have a ‘Community Art Project’ that is due to begin from April 2023. There are no constraints on medium or subject matter. We’re imagining an artist, or artists, working with volunteers or participant groups (GW, GPAC, schools etc) to create different elements of whatever the artwork will be. For anyone interested in taking part or learning more please contact either myself or Melissa who can put you in contact with our trustee, Pete Brown, who is championing the project.

We have also had some exciting news regarding Nature Tots here at The Serpentine. Nature Tots is the Wildlife Trusts wild about nature, play and learning group for pre-school children with their parents/guardians. Derbyshire Wildlife Trust have provided us with training and support to set up our own Buxton group. A big thank you to Diane Gould (from our Give Peas A Chance) for helping make it happen.



12 February: I start this week’s email by saying a huge thank you to all those who took part in this year’s Seedy Saturday event. We raised in excess of £140 through donations from 36 visitors on the day. Tranistion Buxton were a great help as ever, as were our volunteers, some of whom spent the entire Saturday on site, and others who prepared for the event throughout the week. Well done to everyone involved.

Elsewhere across the garden there has been much else to admire. The new brash pile is really starting to take shape and looks like the perfect border for the new raised bed area. We already have 2 new beds in place and work has begun on the last ‘U’ shaped bed. This once overgrown ground has really opened up the garden and given us some well needed space and light to expand and add a little extra beauty. Richard and Fran have even freshened up the seating area, potting up 3 of our David Austin pink tea roses. Come the summer it’s looking like the ideal place to relax with a cold drink.
Our bustling bug hotel has also had a little spruce up this week, having hyancinths and wallflowers planted into the roof. We have also planted some imperial longpod beans as well as an array of basil seeds (which Janette has taken home to care for until the weather picks itself up). Throughout the week some of our volunteers took turns in making paper pots for seedlings, which are easily compostable. There are also quite a few strawberry runners outside the flower greenhouse. If anyone would like an activity to keep the kids occupied during these colder months feel free to pot up a few runners in the paper pots to take home. They are wonderfully easy to care for and will provide lovely fruit throughout the summer.

5 February: January has blown by in a blizzard of wind and rain. Yet despite the conditions our volunteer numbers have been steadily growing by the week. After a few weeks off over Christmas the garden was in need of a clear out, and our volunteers were well on hand to help. Along with a good spring-clean the social tunnel has benefitted from new furnishings and extra electrical installation also.

his week has been more of the same. Our teams of volunteers have been hard at it getting the garden prepared for planting in the spring. Our existing raised beds have been topped up with leaf mould and soil improver while two new raised beds have been erected, with a couple more in the pipeline. A new raised area, including a stumpery and rock pile, is really starting to take shape also. It looks like a fascinating project and I can’t wait to see how it progresses when it starts to flower in the spring/summer. Some of our more natural areas have also had a little TLC this week. The pond has been cleared of leaves and debris and the woodland area has been carefully trimmed.

Our Community Climate Change and Nature Action project funded by HPBC is also underway. This month we will plant two bare-root apple trees, selecting a variety known to do well in Buxton’s climate, in a patch of untended land in the old depot. The soil is poor, formed of ‘made’ land, raised from the surrounding parkland with dumped road scrapings, old tarmac and asphalt: basically a patch of brownfield site left to grow wild for many years. The second tree, the control, will be planted in well-conditioned soil in a ton bag.

It goes against the grain to plant into what may be a hostile environment but it should be a valuable experiment, building on research elsewhere which suggests that carefully chosen planting can help poor soil recover.

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