Working notes - March 2023

26 March: It seems a long time coming but spring is officially upon us. The winter bulbs are out in bloom and the garden is bright with birdsong. A few adventurous bees have even been spotted scouring the polytunnels, in search of a little warmth and nectar. Though we cannot help provide warmth our volunteers are doing their best with the nectar. This week they have sown Mullein, Cosmos, forget me nots, daisies, purple and green tomatillos, onions, shallots, garlic and Imperial broad beans. Our entire range of potatoes (Picasso, King Edward, Desiree, Kestrel, Charlotte, and Pentland Javelin) have also made it into the ground. Let’s hope for another bumper crop like we enjoyed last year.

Elsewhere in the garden we are continuing our work on the new raised beds, brash pile and woodland areas. The extra hours of daylight should come in handy with so many tasks up ahead. But we also have many commitments elsewhere within the community.

On the 9th of April we will be holding a family activity day at the garden. Parents, grandparents and their children are welcome to take part in a range of nature based activities including a bug safari, Easter egg hunt, seed sowing experience and much more. We hope to provide a number of family days throughout the year to encourage children to explore nature and to help promote our upcoming Nature Tots and GPAC sessions.

On the 3rd of June we will have a stall at the Rotary Charity Bazaar in Pavilion Gardens. More information of the Bazaar is available in the social tunnel, as well as a book of raffle tickets for those of you who are feeling lucky.

Melissa has been working hard planning events and workshops for the year. We hope to have all the dates confirmed and printed out shortly and we will be looking for any volunteers willing to help, whether it’s taking the lead in a workshop, assisting with our children’s programmes or just spreading the word of our events between friends. No matter what you can contribute, everyone can help our little garden to grow.

19 March: What a difference a week makes. The temperature has been touching double figures and the snow is just a memory puddled on the pathways. Despite news of another potential freeze over Easter our volunteers have been in an optimistic mood.

At the garden gates I was greeted by some fresh faced Sunday volunteers, early as ever, and the greenhouses were just as welcoming. Shelf after shelf was packed with trays of seedlings and freshly sown seed. Throughout the week our volunteers had planted broad beans (Karmazyn and Buxton Best), leeks (Pancho), kale, corn salad, lettuce, mizuna, beetroot, spinach and peas (Magnum Bonum and Stephen’s). The flower greenhouse too was buzzing with trays of calendula, aubritia, morning glory, corn flowers, cirinthe and borage. A range of tomato seeds had also been sown and taken to some willing volunteers homes for a little extra TLC.
Our extra growing spaces and raised beds are getting close to completion and the flower beds are starting to gain colour. Our new flower bed already has a few rose and cornus cuttings taking root, with plenty of space for more. We have also been donated a loganberry bush which will hopefully take as well as our raspberries, blackberries and currents.

12 March: It’s been a funny old week weather wise. A foot of snow fell overnight throughout the week, yet the temperature in poly 1 today was pushing 20. It’s left the path through The Serpentine Walks a little dicey to say the least, though I only slipped into the slush once this morning which was better than I was expecting.

As ever our volunteers have not been deterred by a little snow. Plenty of seeds have been sown, including a variety of Morning Glory, Zinnias, Cosmos, Dahlias, Marigolds, Tagettes and leeks. A donation of cone-flowers and tulips have been potted up and ferns have been collected from around the garden for planting into the new flower embankment and stumpery.
Another delivery of timber arrived this Wednesday from Fairfield Builders, giving us enough materials to finish the new raised beds and fix some of the older ones, as well as testing our temporary swinging gate. Some of our brave volunteers tested themselves also, digging themselves out of the house on Saturday to clear the snow from our polytunnels and greenhouses.
For those looking for a quick read over a cuppa tea, Poly 3 is building a small collection of material, including March at a Glance; A seasonal, month by month guide of what to enjoy in the garden with a planting plan, recipes and well-being advice. And for those more musically inclined out very own Janette Sykes, along with her partner, Colin, are performing a musical evening at The Pump Room on the 22nd of March from 7.30pm. The evening is to raise funds for the Helen Atkin Group Buxton Riding for the Disabled

5 March: It’s that tricky time of year. Wondering how early is too early to sow your spring seeds. Searching every last inch of window ledge to squeeze in another propagator tray. Then to hear news of another freezing week to come. That’s the fun of the fair I suppose, but luckily our volunteers are always well prepared.

Our early salad seedlings, including lettuce, mizuna and chard, have been fleeced in preparation of the frosts to come. The rest of our early sowings, including basil and Buxton best broad beans, have been taken to the homes of some volunteers in heated propagators for some extra warmth.

Elsewhere in the garden our apple tree project is underway, with 2 James Grieve apple trees planted behind the social tunnel. One has been planted directly into the soil and the other in a tonne bag of compost. The experiment is to see the differences in soil quality and the effects it will have on each tree as they grow.

We are planning an Easter Sunday Family Fun event from 11am – 1pm on Sunday 9th April. The event is aimed at families with pre-school children but they can bring older siblings too. We will have a range of nature and gardening activities for families to enjoy together and an Easter Trail for children. We would love some Serpentine volunteers for this event. If you are looking after your own children/grandchildren that day we would love you to bring them. We shall be sharing our lovely garden with families in our community and advertising our new Nature Tots programme. Please contact myself, Melissa or Frances if you would be interested in helping out.

Lastly, Andy Parker has devoted hours to capturing video footage of activities in the Garden to splice together with drone footage taken for us last year. He shared the introductory section with Madeline who immediately posted it to youtube, facebook and the website. Andy was taken aback, the video clip was intended as a draft for discussion, but agrees that now it’s out of the box we can’t put it back in. There’s lots more to come but this 4 minute clip is a trailer and taster for the final director’s cut.


Huge thanks to Andy for bringing it all together so beautifully, to Keith Vickers for the drone footage and to Will Hawthorne for the original soundtrack.

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