The idea in creating the Garden is to raise the profile of Butterfly Conservation and to enthuse others to garden for butterflies & moths by:

  • Small Tortoiseshell - Matt Berry
    attracting butterflies into the Garden, so that visitors are able to get good views of the more common species of both butterflies and moths,
  • demonstrating the types of plants that will encourage butterflies & moths,
  • experimenting with different habitats & management regimes to minimise maintenance without reducing the Garden's attractiveness to both people and wildlife.

The Garden continues to be developed. It is designed to be at its best from June through to September, though we hope that it will be of some interest all the year round.

Chambers Farm Wood LN8 5JR (Grid ref: TF 147740) is located off the B1202 Bardney to Wragby road - follow the brown signs.

The Garden is used and developed with the kind permission of the Forestry Commission.

Contact: Audrey Spring (tel: 01472 879624)


Gardening: Dates and Times

Join us in the Garden:
'Weed a bit, plant a bit, relax a bit - what a way to spend a day - a workout & relaxation therapy all for free!'

 Gardening days for 2019 - all are Tuesdays - anytime between 9.30 am and 3.00 pm

January 2019 None
February 19th
March 5th & 19th
April 2nd & 16th
May 7th & 21st
June 4th & 18th
July 2nd & 16th
August 6th & 20th
September 3rd (BBQ 4 pm) & 17th
October 1st - cancelled due to weather forecast & 15th
November 5th
December None

For all gardening, please wear appropriate clothing & footwear. Tools and drinks will be provided, but bring your own if you prefer.
Please note: all dates are provisional and will depend on the weather conditions, so, please check with Audrey (tel: 01472-879624) to confirm before travelling.


Butterfly Garden Feature

Dave Thompson has produced this superb feature on his special moments of photography at Chambers Farm Wood butterfly garden.  Please click on the link below to enjoy:

https://davidt.exposure.co/special-moments


Top Ten Plants for Butterflies

Peacock - Tim Melling
  • Perennial Wallflower: 'Bowles Mauve': Apr-Sept
  • Red Valerian: May-Sept
  • Sweet Rocket: 'Hesperis Matronalis': May-June
  • Verbena Bonariensis: June-Oct: likes dry
  • Marjoram: June-Sept
  • Hebes: June-Aug
  • Purple Loosestrife: July-Aug: Likes damp
  • Buddleias varieties: July-Sept
  • Sedum varieties: Aug-Oct
  • Michaelmas Daisies: various: Aug-Oct

Plant of the Moment

Purple loosestrife
Purple loosestrife

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Purple Loosestrife (Lythrum salicaria) – prefers moist soil in full sun


News from the Garden: Our 'Blog'!

 

Tuesday 6th August

  • Another perfect day in the garden
  • Putting paths through the ‘Buddleia/shrub’ bed has been a great success particularly on a day like
    Painted Lady and Peacock on Buddleia
    Painted Lady and Peacock on Buddleia
    this. To be so surrounded by tall flowering Buddleias, Purple Loosestrife & Hemp Agrimony with Red & White Admirals, Peacocks & Painted Ladies floating over your head is truly idyllic.
  • It was a joy to share it with visiting families, and to encourage the children to join in the Big Butterfly Count – we gave out lots of BC illustrated counting sheets.
  • The gardeners did lots of dead-heading, on Buddleias in particular, to prolong the flowering session, also cleared the way for the Sedums and Michaelmas Daisies yet to come.
    Amid the tall flowers
    Amid the tall flowers

    Next session: Tuesday 20th August from 10.00am

Sunday 21st July - BC Lincolnshire Branch Open Day at Chambers Farm Wood

  • At least 50 visitors came and over 30 took the guided walk in the Limewoods
  • 23 species of Butterflies were seen on the walk and 20 seen in garden
    Open day in the garden
    Open day in the garden
  • The walk started at Education Centre, went through ButterflyGarden and the back meadow, then into woods via Little Scrubs up to Fiveways and on to Minting triangle

 

  •  The highlights of the day were: a Purple Emperor and White Admiral by the Volunteers Shed, a Purple Hairstreak settling low down and then opening its wings for everybody to see its beautiful purple sheen, several Silver-washed Fritillaries and a Grass Snake in the garden pond
  • And the weather was just perfect...

Tuesday 16th July

  • A perfect day in the garden – good weather, the garden looked beautiful and we had a Purple Emperor dancing around the Volunteers Shed door before we had even started gardening.
    Purple Emperor
    Purple Emperor
    Pipistrelle Bats roost above the door, so could the Purple Emperor smell them? Were the bats aware of the butterfly? - they certainly became very active while the butterfly was around. The Purple Emperor returned several times, fluttering around their roost entrance.
  • It was a bumper day generally for Butterflies with 15 species seen, including White Admiral and Silver-washed Fritillary. Also for moths, with Six-spot Burnets mating, a Humming Bird Hawkmoth, a White Plume moth and a colourful Magpie moth.
    Magpie Moth
    Magpie moth
  • We had lots of human visitors too – very appreciative of the weather, the butterflies and the garden.
  • As for the gardeners, we deadheaded, weeded and cleared the paths ready for BC Open Day on Sunday.
    Next session: Tuesday  6th August at 10.00am

Tuesday 2nd July

  • Perfect weather for gardening, sunny with enough cloud to stop us getting too hot.

    Today it was mostly trying to keep on top of deadheading and weeding, topping up the pond and mowing the grass – which we did - mostly...

    Meadow Cranesbill
    Meadow Cranesbill
  • Particularly showy were the large Meadow Cranesbill flowering throughout the garden and the annual Cornfield bed with Corn Marigold, Cornflower and Corn Cockle growing through autumn sown Wheat which supports the flowers as they grow.  Lavender and Creeping Thyme looking good too.

  • Eight species of butterfly were seen, including the first Ringlet and Meadow Brown this year. Several species of Moth  including the first Humming Bird Hawkmoth nectaring on Red Valerian, Currant Clearwing, Yellow Shell & 6-Spot Burnet.

    Sharp eyed Richard spotted Mason Bees using canes in the insect hotel.  Another sharp-eyed volunteer spotted the stunning Ruby-tailed Wasp, Chrysis ignita – see photo

    Ruby tailed Wasp - Chrysis ignita
    Ruby tailed Wasp - Chrysis ignita

    Early arrivals saw the Grass Snake leaving the compost heap

  • This time of the year also attracts plenty of photographers and although we love that they appreciate the garden, we would ask them to just be careful where they put their feet – it may look nothing now but come September it could be the beautiful Aster King George attracting lots of Small Tortoiseshells

    Next session:  Tuesday 16th July at 10.00am 

Tuesday 18th June

  • A good day to be in the Garden - 6 species of butterfly (Marsh Fritillary, Painted Lady, Brimstone M&F, Red Admiral, Speckled Wood, Common Blue), 3 species of caterpillar (Brimstone on Alder buckthorn, Orange-tip on Sweet Rocket and Mullein moth on Verbascum), also Broad-bordered Bee Hawkmoth, Currant Clearwing, Broad-bodied Chaser, Large Red and Azure Damselflies plus numerous other insects.
    Common Blue
    Common Blue
  • Our large blocks of tall perennials have a tendency to flop after heavy rain and later in the season, so the edges were given a partial ‘Chelsea Chop’, then strung round with posts and twine – it worked well last year and hopefully will again.   Some Red Valerian plants were back to encourage a second flowering.
  • Visiting children were entranced with large Mullein caterpillars – the epitome of the ‘Hungry Caterpillar – which were busy stripping a tall Verbascum plant.
    Mullein moth caterpillar
    Mullein moth caterpillar
  • Meadow Thistles were still in flower in the back meadow.

Next Session – Tuesday 2nd July: When we will be potting up & labelling plants to sell at the Open Day on Sunday 21st July.

Tuesday 4th June

  • A fine morning, turning into drizzle and rain later.
  • Delighted to find 2 Marsh Fritillaries still in the garden, plus at least 4 Broad-bordered Bee Hawkmoths
    Marsh Fritillary on Marigold
    Marsh Fritillary on Marigold
    on Red Valerian. Also found a Brimstone Caterpillar on Alder Buckthorn, a Knot Grass caterpillar and a multitude of Mullein caterpillars munching on Verbascum.
  • Most of today was spent pulling out Common Vetch  – we have removed buckets of the stuff for the third session in a row – it is climbing through everything. According to the book, it keeps going until August –Ugh.  Also discovered one of its common names is Tare and is a nitrogen-fixing leguminous plant – so not all bad.
    Golden-bloomed Grey Longhorn Beetle
    Golden-bloomed Grey Longhorn Beetle
  • Fortunately there were lots of bugs to entertain us, including the amazing Longhorn Beetle with its snazzy black & white antenn
  • After lunch we walked around the back meadow to check on the beautiful Meadow Thistles – they are just coming into flower.

Next Session –Tuesday 18th June at 10.00am

 

Tuesday 21st May 2019

  • This was truly a butterfly week.  An explosion of Marsh Fritillaries in the wood, with at least 8 in the garden, including a dark aberrant form – see photograph.  We hope they found our patch of Devils-bit Scabious, planted in hope for such an occasion.
    Dark abberation of Marsh Fritillary
    Dark aberration of Marsh Fritillary
  • Despite the excitement, we did find time to garden:  Planting Cosmos and Echium Blue Bedder in the annuals bed,  adding fresh Buddleias, including a pink form of Weyriana and Hebes to the shrub bed, transferring some Joe Pye Weed – Eupatorium purpureum and Common Valerian to a boggy area where they should do well.
  • The winter Heathers were trimmed, and will be fed and mulched next time.  And of course we did lots of weeding, at which I think we are holding the line but not for much longer, then it will be the survival of the fittest – hopefully the butterfly-attracting plants will triumph.
    Large Red Damselfly
    Large Red Damselfly
  • Brimstones and Orange Tips were in flight, as were Azure and Large Red Damselflies.

Next Session – Tuesday 4th June at 10.00am.  We shall be looking for Orange-tip caterpillars on the Sweet Rocket, Brimstone eggs on the Alder Buckthorn and Broad-bordered Bee Hawkmoths on the Red Valerian.

 

Tuesday 7th May 2019

  • After a 3 week gap the garden was lush to say the least – plants and unwanted plants (weeds) fighting for space.  Much time was spent removing over-enthusiastic vetch, creeping buttercup and the inevitable bindweed (all having a good year already) and creating space for Sedums, Rock Roses, Asters etc.
    Bumble bee on Myosotis arvensis
    Bumble bee on Myosotis arvensis
  • Old Buddleias that struggle in our normally damp garden were removed and replaced with new specimens.  The Hop was encouraged to grow up the pole designed for it.  Rudbeckias and Perennial Cornflowers were added.  The Winter Heathers were still flowering – these will be trimmed and mulched with leaf-mould at the next session. It was good to find a few native Bluebells at the bottom of the garden
  • An Orange-tip and a Brimstone appeared with the sunshine, but were quite eclipsed by the array of other insects: bees, shield bugs, metallic blue coloured beetles and moths including the exquisite Purple and Gold Pyralid Moth and the striking Corizus hyoscyami also called
    Red Squash bug
    Black and Red Squash bug
    the Cinnamon Bug or the Black & Red Squash bug
  • Blackcaps and a Garden Warbler seemed to be singing all day

Next Session – Tuesday 21st May at 10.00am

 

Tuesday 16th April 2019

  • A cool start today. The new shredder made short work of the dry winter brash, and fortunately there was plenty of cut grass to add moisture to the compost heap which had been in danger of being too dry to compost properly.
  • On the plus side this dry winter and spring has made our normally soggy soil much easier to work.  Enabling us to bring more order to the overgrown Buddleia/shrub bed, also to work through the more formal flower beds around the buildings.
    Comfrey
    Comfrey
  • We dug out and thoroughly cleaned surplus bog plants – Purple Loosestrife and Yellow Flag – for the Lincolnshire Rivers Trust who are working to slow the flow of a local stream.
  • The autumn sown cornfield in one of the annuals bed is doing really well, so the net covering (to deter small mammals over the winter) was removed.
  • Honesty much loved by Orange Tips and Comfrey loved by bees were the new flowers for this session with the delightful haze of blue Forget-me-not just starting.
    Honesty
    Honesty
  • A single male Brimstone patrolled the garden and twenty four Orchid plants were found and marked. Nuthatch and Blackcap were heard calling.
    Next Session – Tuesday 7th May at 10.00am

Tuesday 2nd April 2019

  • Our luck ran out today – it rained & rained. Even the few hardy souls who came, had to give up by lunchtime. We did manage to do some shredding and give the grass a quick high cut – only gardening once a fortnight it’s essential to try to keep on top of jobs like this.  More Teasels were planted around the margins and plans were made for Area 2.
  • In flower: Winter Heather looking very good, Pulmonaria, Primroses, Cowslips, Hyacinths, perennial Wallflowers & Marsh Marigolds.
  • No butterflies or moths today, but reports of lots of Marsh Fritillary Caterpillars in Little Scrubbs Meadow, and lots Orange Underwing Moths in flight in the Wood last Friday – a warm sunny day.
  • Other wildlife kept a low profile today 

Next Session – Tuesday 16th April at 10.00am when we hope for more favourable conditions.

 

Tuesday 19th March 2019

  • Do we believe our luck – another good day for gardening.
  • First job of the day was raking up the brash following the scything – Thanks Mark.  Hopefully we will have a new shedder next session to help convert the brash into compost, thanks to a donation by Colin from proceeds from his annual charity quiz.
  • More plants were added to the Purple Loosestrife bed which was then given a good mulch of our excellent garden-produced compost.  More Foxgloves and Honesty plants were added to the margins. Hebes were unwrapped from their winter protection having survived well from frost and nibbling deer.
  • We continued work on the Buddleia/shrub bed and also trimming back the neighbouring Leyandii hedge.
  • No Butterflies in the garden today, but several volunteers have had Brimstones in their own gardens.
  • Discovery of the day – a large ground beetle - Carabus nemoralis. See photo
    Carabus nemoralis
    Ground beetle - Carabus nemoralis
  • In flower: Winter Heather, Pulmonaria, Primroses, Cowslips, Hacyinths, perennial Wallflowers and Marsh Marigolds – a good range of flowers for both Butterflies and Bees. In the Pond: Newts active and a single frog croaking. Buzzards seen displaying overhead.

Next Session - Tuesday 2nd April at 10.00 am

 

Tuesday 5th March 2019

  • Another good day for gardening and time to give the grass a first cut.
  • Fresh Hebes & Buddleias were added, also a generous donation of Aconites which were planted in the green ie still in leaf.
  • Self sown seedlings of Red Valerian (an excellent plant for many insects but particularly attractive to Broad-Bordered Bee Hawkmoths) were collected up and planted in an area of poor stony soil in the sun. A position which will suit them well.
  • Progress was made on marking out paths on the Buddleia/Shrub bed.
  • Our compost heap has produced some excellent compost, courtesy of good management, shredded garden waste and liberal additions of horse manure. Brash from last session was shredded, ready to start a fresh bay in the compost heap.
  • We trimmed back a neighbouring Leyandii hedge that was overshadowing our recently laid native hedge.
    Mixed perennial wallflowers
    Mixed Erysimum
  • In flower: Winter Heather & just starting Pulmonaria, Primroses & perennial wallflowers - Bowles’ Mauve and other varieties.
  • In the Pond: Honey Bees taking water at the edge. Newts seen active earlier in the week.

Next Session – Tuesday 19th March 10.00am

 

Tuesday 19th February 2019

  • Perfect weather for the first gardening session of 2019 – we made the most of it. Working through the more formal beds around the buildings, cutting down perennials and making space for plants like Pulmonaria that will be next into flower.
    Snowdrops - Galanthus sp
    Galanthus sp
  • The soil was easy to work, not waterlogged as it often is at this time of the year, so we were able replant the Purple Loosestrife bed which we cleared of Golden Rod in the autumn.
  • One of the tasks for this spring is bringing some order to the Buddleia bed, making it more accessible to work and to view.
  • In flower: Viburnum Bodnantense (with bees), Winter Heather and Snowdrops
  • Plenty of small birds attracted to the feeds including a Nuthatch which we heard calling most of the morning.

Next session – Tuesday 5th March starting at 10.00am

Tuesday 6th November

  • Many plants are continuing to put on a show through this mild autumn – Eryngium planum has produced a new head of flowers each month since September and the reliable Erysimum Bowle’s Mauve just keeps on going, as do many of the Asters.
    Erysimum bowles mauve
  • As this was the last session of the year, there was lots to do:  rescuing winter flowering Vibernum Bodnantensis from a smothering Hop, continuing to check the onward march of Golden Rod, cutting down the Narrow-leaved Erigeron to reduce seeding and moving more Field Scabious to the margins.  We also put protection around the  Hebes – these seem to suffer in our garden from the combination of hard frost and water-logged ground.  Waste was shredded and added to the compost heap.  All this sounds like we are fighting nature, though we like to see it as giving nature a hand to support Butterflies and other insects.  Do we get the balance right – we try.
  • On a positive note a Red Admiral was seen around the Ivy at the bottom of the garden and evidence was found that 3 of the bird boxes had been occupied this year.
    Next Session: Tues 19th February 2019

Tuesday 16th October  2018

  • A damp start to the day, butterflies were scarce but did manage one each of Comma, Red Admiral and Comma once the sun put in a brief appearance at midday.
  • Our winter Heather bed was hit by the ‘beast from the east’, so we cut out the dead & replenished with some new plants– heathers being such a vital source of nectar in the winter months.
  • We managed to complete the thinning of the pond plants without anybody actually falling in, leaving the waste on the side for water creatures to crawl back in – identified a dragonfly nymph & a small water beetle possibly a Hydrophilidae.   Also identified a Western Conifer Seed Beetle in the garden
    Western Conifer Seed Bug
    Western Conifer Seed Bug
    & egg laying Common Darters
    Next Session: Tuesday 6th November – final session in 2018

Tuesday 2nd October 2018

  • Michaelmas Daisies Daisies (Harrington’s Pink, Esther & King George/Monch) still putting on a great show plus now a large area of Narrow-leaved Erigeron – tall with small pale flowers, can be invasive but brilliant at this time of the year -  all pulling in the insects.
    Small Copper on Michaelmas Daisies
    Small Copper on Michaelmas Daisies
  • Most common butterfly today was the Comma – we wondered if it was attracted by the splendid Hop plant we have this year - must check for eggs or larvae next time.  Later in the day a rather worn Brown Hairstreak appeared along with Small Coppers, Red Admirals & a few Small & Green-veined Whites plus a single Common Blue.
  • Other insects noted & photographed were Silver Y Moth, Knot Grass caterpillar, Hairy Shieldbug & Corizus hyocyemit.
    Probable Knot Grass caterpillar
  • We continued to reduce the plants in the pond, and (attempt to) eradicate Golden Rod from the bed reserved for Purple Loosestrife – Golden Rod, although great for insects in August, is making a bid for the whole garden & has to be contained.   Our stock of  Vipers Bugloss was replenished on the Scree, and our winter sowing of wheat in one of the annual bed is showing well – this will provide support for the annual Cornflowers, Corn Marigolds & Poppies which we will sow amongst the wheat in the spring.
    Next Session: Tuesday 16th October

                       

Tuesday 18th September 2018 

  • Today was dry, windy & mild, and what a show of  colour greeted us – Buddleias (particularly Pixie Blue), Michaelmas Daisies (Harrington’s Pink, Esther & King George/Monch), Fleabane, Verbena Bonariensis & perennial wall flower Bowle’s Mauve. Fabulous!
    Comma on Buddleia weyeriana
    Comma on Buddleia weyeriana
  • As the day brightened the Butterflies came too – Red Admirals, Commas, a Painted Lady, 2 Small Coppers, Small & Green-veined Whites plus a Humming-bird Hawkmoth & a few Hornets.  So plenty to watch & photograph.
  • We did do some gardening too – lots to dead-heading of Buddleias, which seem to be having a second burst of flowering since the rain in August and of Hemp Agrimony to prevent further seeding, we have enough.  Several plants which struggled in the drought like the Buddleias are now producing fresh flowers including the Hemp Agrimony, Thyme and Red Valerian.
  • The pond also received some attention. Arrowhead, Spearwort & Bog Bean have all had such a good year, that we have started to cut them back.   The cut stems are left on the side for the wildlife to crawl back into the pond.  Seeds were collected from the Alder Buckthorn & cuttings from the Pixie Blue for propagation.
  • All in all a busy and productive day.

Next Session: Tues 2nd October: Reviewing the year & planning for 2019

Hawk-moth caterpillar

Tuesday 3rd July 2018

  • Arrived today wondering how the garden was coping in this hot dry weather.   The answer, in the main, is very well, after all, it is a wet site.  So most well-established shrubs & perennials seem unaffected – right plants in the right location. But annuals & some plants around the car park where the soil is not so deep are suffering, as are plants potted for sale at the Open Day on Sun July 22nd.  
     
  • The scree bed, created with sand on a nonporous membrane that was designed for the likes of  Birdsfoot Trefoil & Rockrose & is really struggling. Unable to regularly water it is difficult to manage in such hot conditions.  Perhaps this is an opportunity to consider new planting for these areas
     
  • Butterflies were happy though – 8 species of Butterfly, Burnet Moths & our first ever  BBHawkmoth caterpillar on honeysuckle.
     
  • Best sight of all – the brilliant deep blue of the Cornflowers with the gold of Corn Marigolds in the ‘cornfield’ annuals bed

Next Session:  Tues June 17th.

 

 

Tuesday 19th June 2018

  • Today saw a general tidying-up session in the garden, so the pond was topped up, grass mown, weeds attacked and plants tidied.
  • We were encouraged by the presence of several visitors from near and far, and we were able to show them the Broad-bordered Bee Hawkmoths on Red ValerianCurrant Clearwings on the Blackcurrants, plus Orange tipMullein moth and sawfly caterpillars munching their way through various plants.
  • Butterfly species in the garden included singletons of Orange tip, Ringlet, Small Tortoiseshell, Large White and Painted Lady, together with China ClayWhite PlumeStraw Dot and Bloodvein moths. A pair of Broad-bodied Chasers also entertained us.
  • A small group of us set out towards Fiveways on search of Black Hairstreaks, but despite some being seen earlier, we concluded that it was too cool and windy for them to be active. We heard that numbers of Marsh Fritillaries had dwindled from their earlier record numbers.

Next Session: Tuesday 3rd July

 

Tuesday 5th June 2018

  • After a 3 week break & good weather for plants, the garden has really taken off. Most notably the splendid Red Valerian & Sweet Rocket, flowering just in time to attract the amazing Broad-bordered Bee Hawkmoths - at least 4 once the sun came out.  That & the abundance of Marsh Fritillaries in the meadows brought lots of visitors too. Spare pots of Red Valerian seedlings (Pots for Pollinators) we put out were eagerly taken up.
  • There is definitely a ‘survival of the fittest’ war in the borders - Golden Rod & Bindweed seem to be the winners at the moment. So our 10 regular volunteers worked hard today trying to even the odds - giving Golden Rod the 'Chelsea Chop', clearing around individual plants like Thyme, fighting to create paths into the tangle of the so called Buddleia bed & untwizzling the Bindweed.
  • It’s not all work, we frequently stop to share, identify & if possible photograph insects, flowers & birds we come across or hear – such as the Burnet Moth caterpillar, Shield bugs, Lesser Stitchwort & the singing Garden Warbler seen today. After lunch we walked round the flowering Meadow behind (& to the right) of the garden to admire the spectacular Meadow Thistles, then on to Little Scrubbs meadow for the Marsh Fritillaries & Greater Butterfly Orchids.

Next Session: Tuesday 19th June

Tuesday 15th May 2018

  • Amazed today at how much everything has grown – it’s that time of the year when you feel that the garden itself is taking over & will you ever catch up.  Still we did our best to create a little order in the beds.  Echium Blue Bedder & Ammi Majus grown under glass were planted out in the one of the Annual beds, hope to add Marigolds at next session. The beautiful blue haze of Forgetmenot which has been a great nectar source particularly for the White Butterflies over the last month, was removed to make room for the next flowers like Sweet Williams & perennial Cornflower   The Heather bed was weeded, fed, trimmed & mulched with leaf-mould to ensure a good showing next winter.  Orchids were marked – not so many this year.
  • We were delighted to see 2 or 3 Holly Blues taking an interest in the newly planted Holly bushes – the first we have seen in the garden for 3 years.  Brimstone, Green-veined White & Orangetipswere also seen with Broad-bodied & Four-spotted Chasers active over the pond.
  • Blackcap & Garden Warblers serenaded us & a Cuckoo was heard in the distance.
  • All round a good session.

Next Session: Tuesday 5th June -  Some plants will be getting a late Chelsea chop & we will be considering ways of stopping the later tall perennials from flopping over the path.

Tuesday 1st May 2018

  • First decent gardening day this year & the garden was a hive of activity. 
  • Brimstones laying eggs on the Alder Buckthorn before our very eyes.  A pair of  Great Diving Beetles laying eggs in the pond.  Wild honey bees tending their nest in the shed.  Bumblebees on all the flowers particularly the Comfrey. And of courseenthusiastic volunteers weeding, dividing, planting & mulching
  • The mulch coming from our 2016 compost heap emptied today
  • Other Butterflies seen today: a pair of Orange-tips and a Comma
  • A number of Smooth Newts were seen in the pond

Next Session:  Tuesday 15th May - Planting & sowing the Annuals beds, and continuing to work on the Buddleia bed.

Tuesday 17th April 2018

  • The garden was slightly drier, with just the one designated pond this session, so the grass was given it’s first mow of the year.  It was great to see how well Primroses are spread around the edges.
  • We were pleased to welcome two new volunteers, who enthusiastically helped working through the beds, weeding, dividing late-flowering perennials & transplanting rogue (but still welcome) plants like Teasels to the margins.  A small area was cleared to make space for more Erysimum Bowles Mauve grown from cuttings last year. 
  • The cornfield annual seeds sown a month ago have successfully germinated.  A first sowing of Phacelia was made – further sowings will be made at the next two or three sessions to ensure a continual display.
  • The Pulmonaria was putting on a grand display, attracting many bees, including lots of Common Carder Bees & Early Bumblebees plus at least one Red-tailed Bumblebee.
  • Unfortunately no butterflies again today.  A frog was seen in the pond but no spawn this year.  Buzzards displaying again & a male Blackcap came to the feeder.

Next Session: Tuesday 1st May - More sorting of the various flowerbeds & laying a path through the Buddleia bed.

Tuesday 3rd April 2018  

  • We have never seen the garden so flooded – even the ground that was not flooded was just too wet to work on.  So we pruned more of the Buddleias & planted some fresh perennial Wallflowers - Bowles Mauve. These excellent plants, that will flower all year, do get woody after 2-3 years, & are not totally frost hardy in wet ground, so need to be replaced. Cuttings are easily taken.
  • We have a small bog – totally flooded today of course – which we are starting to clear & replant as it has being taken over by coarse grass.  Flag Iris & Marsh Marigolds will be replanted, with Water Mintfor summer butterflies.
  • Bees but no butterflies seen in the garden, but during a brief glimpse of sunshine a Brimstone was seen flying in the wood.
  • In flower; Heather, Pulmonaria, Primroses & Hyacinths.
  • Still no spawn in the pond.
  • Buzzards overhead are a regular sight now.  In a first for the garden, a Lesser Black-backed Gull was seen flying over.

Next Session: Tuesday 17th April

 Tuesday 20th March 2018

  • The garden was still very wet, also laid bare. It having been scythed flat last Saturday during the snow showers – thanks Mark.
  •  Today all the brash was gathered up & shredded for composting. The Hebe shrubs survived the cold, having been well wrapped over winter. One of the Annuals bed was cleared & re-sown with corn & cornfield flowers – this worked well last year.
  •  Other annuals are being raised indoors as the garden is so wet. Aconites and more Snowdrops were added to the bottom of the garden – these being best planted in ‘planted in the green’ ie still in leaf.
  • In flower: Heather, Snowdrops, Pulmonaria & Primroses.
  • Newts seen in the pond but no Frog or Toad spawn this year so far. A Buzzard displayed overhead.

Next Session: Tuesday 3rd April

Tuesday 6th March 2018

  • Four hardy souls turned out on a cold morning. The garden still very wet, with 3 ponds & a lake instead of just the one pond.
  • Undaunted we gathered soil from newly emerged Mole hills - excellent for potting on - mulched new heather plants with leaf-mould, freed up & mulched more Pulmonaria, gathered up seedling of Red Valerian & raked and weeded the entrance. 
  • Joan & Ken continued to remove the old membrane from the Buddleia Bed, while Alan worked on the bottom hedge. In flower: Heather, Snowdrops, with Pulmonaria & Primroses just starting.
  • A Buzzard circled overhead, Chaffinches & Great Tits were in full song, & a Great Spotted Woodpecker came to the feeders.

Next Session: Tuesday 20th March

20th February 2018

  • The first gardening day of this year – really to check on the state of the garden.  And the state was wet & including a few extra ponds.  So we confined our activities to cutting back the perennials in the more formal beds around the buildings. Using the stalks to fill in holes in the Insect Hotel, with the rest going for composting. 
  • We planted a few more Primrose, Foxgloves plus Hesperis Matronalis (Sweet Rocket) particularly for Orange Tip Butterflies. Winter Heather is in flower now and will continue for at least another month. We cleared around Pulmonaria (Lungwort) & added a mulch as this will flower next – all will provide nectar for early fliers.
  • The sun did appear briefly encouraging the Great Tits with their ‘teacher, teacher’ song and bringing out a few sluggish Bumblebees – signs that Spring is on it way.

Next session: Tuesday 6th March 2018

7th November 2017

  • A damp wet day for our last session of the year.  So today was spent preparing the garden for winter.  Putting  winter protection around the Hebes. Our wet ground seems to make Hebes more vunerable to cold weather, also in hard winters the Munjac deer come into the garden & make short work of unguarded Hebes.
  • Parts of the large Buddleia bed were cleared, taking out the weeds & heeling in the wanted perennials.  Other perennials surplus to our requirements were bagged up to pass on to other butterfly enthusiasts.
  • One of the annual beds was cleared & covered for a fresh start next spring.  Our experiment of sowing corn with the cornfield flowers achieved our objective of  keeping the flower stems upright -  we hope to repeat this next year.
  • It was good to see the winter heather already showing a few flower buds.

Next Session: Tuesday 20th February 2018

3rd October 2017

  • After Monday's gales it turned out to be a largely sunny and warm day in the garden. We could have done with more like this earlier in the year. The stars of the show were of course the Michaelmas daisies which played host to lots of Red Admirals,  Commas and Peacocks with smaller numbers of Speckled Wood, Small Tortoiseshells and Large Whites as the supporting cast.
  • The other stars of the show were the team who tackled the many and various tasks to be done to keep the garden looking so good. Everything from manicure trimming of the heather beds to deep-sea diving efforts in the pond as well as endless mowing and shredding, to say nothing of the laborious task of clearing out all the stuff that had 'gone over'.
  • The upshot was good progress in all areas. The pond has had a good space cleared whilst leaving all the vegetation that was removed at the pond side to allow its inhabitants to move back into the water. The shredding and composting is in full swing so thast we will have space for more material which will be removed at at later date. The grassy areas look very good along with the path edges and give a 'cared for' look to the whole area. Some of the jobs on our 'to do' list remain for another time but jobs like hedge trimming and levelling are now complete for this year.

Next Session: 17th October - further thinning of the growth of Bog Bean and the Greater Spearwort in the pond. Fleabane, Hemp Agrimony and Purple Loosestrife will also need more thinning. Collect up seeds and self sown seedlings. Collect up and bag Fleabane for collection.

19th September 2017

  • A beautiful day, lots of butterflies (mostly Red Admirals, Small Tortoiseshells, Commas and Whites) on the massed ranks of Michaelmas Daisies - what a spectacle. Lots of photos were taken but then work has to be done.
  • The pond had been getting better and better each year, but has now reached the point where if we don't do something soon the water will not be visible next year for all the plant growth. So we are starting the process of thinning the growth, particularly of the Bog Bean and Greater Spearwort which are competing for total dominance. We do pot up our surplus plants and pass them on to 'good homes'.
  • We added to our stock of Sweet Rocket, Sweet Williams, Joe Pye Weed, winter flowering heathers and Foxgloves - all good for butterflies and bees.

Next Session: 3rd October - continue with thinning the pond plants and other aggressive perennials.

5th September 2017

  • Despite the damp conditions, Red Admiral, Small Tortoiseshell, Green-veined White were seen today. Red Admirals on the beautiful Harrington's Pink Michaelmas Daisies being harassed by Hornets.
  • Also seen were 7-Spot Ladybird, Buff-tailed Bumblebees, a Snout-type moth plus lots of Migrant Hawker Dragonflies in the lane. The Michaelmas Daisies and Sedums were the stars of the day. 
    The human species managed some cutting back and dead-heading before the rain came.
  • The rain being a good excuse to start the annual end of season BBQ early.

Next Session: 19th September

22nd August 2017

  • The perfect day I think - such colour, so many insects and sunshine too. Just to stand between the tall beds of brilliant Golden rodand hear the loud buzz of insects - magic.
  • Eight species of buttefly, three species of Dragonfly and two species of Damselfly. Hornets and any number of bees and  Hoverflies recorded by Alan and photographed by Colin. See the photos of the Red Admiral on the beautiful Cardoonhead (Cynara cardunculus).
  • The volunteers were busy too, keeping on top of the dead-heading and making space for the Michaelmas Daisies and Sedums which are bursting into flower now. They will keep attracting the insects for the next month and beyond.

Next Session: 5th September - a short gardening session from 2.00 pm followed by the BBQ for the volunteers.

8th August 2017

  • Heavy rain all day - no gardening

Next Session: 22nd August - please, no rain!

18th July 2017

  • Twelve species of butterfly in the garden today, a good number of Red Admirals and Peacocks plus Small TortoiseshellsComma, Painted Lady, Large, Small and Green-veined Whites, a Large Skipper, Meadow Brown, Ringlet and Gatekeeper.
  • The garden was looking good too, with Purple Loosestrife, Buddleia, Lavender, Marjoram, Field Scabious and Hemp Agrimony being the key attractions for the butterflies at the moment. Other less well known perennials flowering are Agastache, Lysimachia clethroides (Chinese Loosestrife), Inulaand in the pond yellow Fringed water lily.
  • We erected new information posters for the Open Day on Sunday 30th July and did our best to subdue the perisistent growth of Bindweed which is making a bid for our newly laid hedge.

Next Session: 8th August

4th July 2017

  • Hooray, there were butterflies in the garden today - Ringlet, Meadow Brown, Small Tortoiseshell, Comma, Red Admiral, Large Skipper, plus a Purple Emperor in the car park. Also seen, a 6-spot Burnet moth, Banded Demoiselle, Azure and Large Red Damselflies.
  • The mini cornfield in one of the new annual beds was looking particularly good, though not many Poppies or corn stalks - the corn was sown to support the flowers but Cornflowers and Corn Marigolds are successfully supporting each other so far. We  sprinkled the poppy seed on the surface of the soil, but may be poppy seeds need to be raked in well - we will try again next year.
  • The biennial Clary Sage (Salvia sclarea), a new plant for us is putting on a good show at the moment and attracting lots of insects.
  • Lots of purple Buddleias are in full flower so we will need to keep dead-heading to prolong the flowering. Many other plants are flowering earlier this year, just as well that the inscets are emerging early too.

Next Session: 18th July - dead-heading, bindweed 'bashing' and erecting posters for the Open Day on Sunday 30th July

20th June 2017

  • Thankfully not as hot today as predicted, in fact not sunny enough for any butterflies again. However seven Grass snakes were seen leaving the compost heap and three Hawker Dragonfly larval cases were found by the pond.
  • Everything has grown so much. After five weeks the grass took some cutting down to size but we managed it. I can't way we beat the Bindweed but we tried. However there were lots of flowers and even more ready to burst open.
  • Buddleias look ready to open, in fact some have - so it may be a good idea to give some bushes a prune to ensure flowers in August. The variety Buddleia 'weyeriana' with yellow tassels will continue flowering into the late autumn.
  • The annual Phacelia tanacetifolia (used as a green manure) attracts lots of insects and can be sown at monthly intervals to give a continual flowering.

Next Session: 4th July

6th June 2017

  • Success - at least eight Orange tip caterpillars found on the Sweet Rocket. So it was worth turning out on such a wet day as today. Also a reminder to always check Sweet Rocket before dead-heading.
  • 100+ Orchid heads were scattered across the garden and Greater Spearwort making a good display in the pond. We decided this year to make sure we had plenty of Sheep's Sorrel, the foodplant of Small Copper caterpillars. So we were disappointed that the seeds sown in the autumn have not germinated. However, today we discovered lots of self-sown plants already in the garden.
  • We heard that Broad-bordered Bee Hawkmoths were seen in the garden last week but of course none were seen in today's rain.
  • The beds for annuals are filling out well and should make a good show over the next two months

Next Session: 20th June

16th May 2017

  • A damp day today, so excellent conditions for planting the last of the annuals - Nasturtium, Cosmos and more Echium. We took the netting off, leaving the annuals to the mercy of the local fauna - wild and domestic who seem to find this area particularly attractive.
  • The Forget-me-nots that provided that lovely blue haze as well as nectar, were reluctantly removed as in three weeks when we return they will be well and truly over. It does make space for the next plants to flower and we always leave a few to set seed for next year.
  • Our newest volunteer all of two and a half months old and his mother joined us in the garden, he took the role of the sleeping partner most of the time...but still delighted everybody.
  • The invaluable Red Valerian is coming into flower now - such an attractive plant for insects. Let's hope the Broad-bordered  Bee Hawkmoths pay us a visit again this year. Too wet for butterflies today but we did see a Nursery Web Spider, a large Toad and a Large Red Damsefly. Singing Willow Warblers and Blackcaps provided a welcome backdrop.

Next Session: 6th June - three weeks time.

2nd May 2017

  • An Orange tip was seen in the garden today. The Erysimum Bowles Mauve was looking good and the pond was a mass of Bog Bean with its surprisingly beautiful flower heads. We planted seedlings of Echium Blue Bedder and Borage in the bed for annuals both of which did so well last year.
  • The heather which is still flowering was weeded and mulched with garden compost. At the next session it will get a light trim to keep it compact. The garden is coping well with the lack of rain. It is a wet site so there is plenty of moisture beneath the surface for established plants.
  • Ken made a very good job of repairing the low wall which had been in danger of crumbling - see photo.

Next Session: 16th May

18th April 2017

  • The first butterfly was seen on a working day this year - a Green-veined white. We also saw several Bee flies - they seem to like the Comfrey.
  • The garden is bursting into life again with these sunny days.The soil is drying out and was easier to work, so there was a lot of weeding and mulching done today. Seedlings brought for the annual beds however, have been take home to be matured until next time, as there are still cold nights to come. Last year we lost Nasturtiums by planting them out too early.
  • We did add more Erysimum Blowes Mauve (plants that were already in flower), also Honesty and Hebes. Over 50 Common Spotted Orchids have already been identified scattered around the garden - all marked to avoid losing their heads to the mower.

Next Session: 2nd May - planting the annual flower beds

4th April 2017

  • Dull and cool today so no butterflies. We were delighted to see the cornfield seeds sown last time are already showing growth. The timing and the weather must have been just right. It is hoped that the corn will provide a natural support for the flowers.
  • We also sowed seeds of Phacalia and Echium vulgare 'Blue Bedder' which did so well last year.
  • The compost heap has produced excellent compost this year, due in part to shredding the garden prunings and a constant supply of horse manure. Today it was sieved and spread liberally as a mulch on the perennials.
  • Frogspawn had hatched, but the recent dry, warm weather has meant that the pond needed topping up already.
  • Honesty and the reliable Erysimum 'Bowles Mauve' are starting to flower.
  • A Bullfinch came down to the feeders. Blackcap and Chiffchaff were both heard.

Next Session: 18th April

21st March 2017

  • Unbelievably a third perfect gardening day - will our luck last? Completed hedge, thanks to the team of Nev, James, Alan and Colin ably led by Steve - well done to all. The rest of us pruned Buddleias, planted more Primroses and Snowdrops. Did some weeding and divided perennial Michaelmas Daisies.
  • The first annual bed was sown with Cornfield seeds - Cornflower, Corn Marigold and Poppies. For the first time ever there is Frogspawn in the pond. It will be interesting to see if we get the usual Toadspawn as well.
  • In flower today - Heathers, Pulmonaria, Primroses, Hyacinths and Comfrey. No butterflies or Honey bees, just a few Bumblebees.

Next Session: 4th April - more shredding, spreading and sowing annuals.

7th March 2017

  • Perfect gardening weather again, but rather wet underfoot. The hedge-laying continues, in fact the end of the initial laying was reached. Next time it will be completing the staking and binding the top.
  • Today we started cutting back the perennials in the more formal beds and identifying those plants we want and removing the interlopers. The garden looks raher bare at this time of the year with all the perennials cut back, but still plenty of bees on the winter flowering Heathers, Pulmonaria, Viburnum x bodnantense and primroses that are all in flower. No butterflies seen today.

Next Session: 21st March - Completing the hedge-laying and mulching the formal beds

21st February 2017

  • The perfect gardening - mild and sunny. Bees were busy on the Heather, Snowdrops and on the flowering Viburnum x bodnantense. 
  • More Primroses were added - they provide early nectar and look so good at the base of the hedges. The hedging continues and the expertise is increasing. Brash was shredded to add to the compost heap, spent horse manure will be mixed with it next week. Last year's mix is ready to be spread liberally on the flower beds in the coming months.
  • We are starting some annuals - Borage, Agastache, Nasturtiums and Echium vulgare blue bedder - indoors as we did last year. It worked well for our cold, wet, clay soil.

Next Session: 7th March - Starting work on the more formal flower beds, weeding, dividing and adding more plants.

24th January 2017

  • A cold start for the hedgers this morning, but the sun soon appeared. Under Steve's guidance, good progress is being made.
  • The winter flowering heather is opening to provide nectar for any early flying insects. Now is the time to think of how we can all add nectar to our gardens. Erysimum Bowle's Mauve that flowers almost all year round, Red Valerian which will continue to flower if cut back after first flowering, Marjoram popular with so many species of butterfly o Michaelmas Daisies for later in the year. If you are short on space then plant a 'Pot for Pollinators' - see Butterfly Conservation's home page for more information.

Next Sessions: 7th February for continuing to lay the hedge, 
21st February for the annual mowing, dividing up perennials and planning the scheme for the annual beds.