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Volunteers' Blog - April 2019

This month we have seen the full range of British weather. After the unseasonably warm Easter weekend it would be easy to forget how cold it was at the start of the month.  The first Wednesday, you may remember, saw a return to winter with snow falling in the morning. Mike Hughes (Head Gardener) had kindly sent an email out to the Volunteers shortly after 7 am to warn that the forecast was not good and, since he was entertaininga group of pupils from a Special School in the greenhouse and potting shed, he had no indoor space left in which we could work. It was not a difficult decision to stay at home in the warmth.

With better weather the following week normal service resumed. Those Volunteers working inside set about potting up plug plants, including Euphorbia Glamour. A production line was put in place with each member having a specific job making for an extremely efficient operation. I have no doubt that Adam Smith, in his 1776 tome, The Wealth of Nations, might have used this example of the division of labour, rather than the manufacture of pins, to show how greater productivity can be achieved.

Last month Volunteers had started planting bee friendly plug plants close to the Bee Hive. Concern had been expressed that the resident rabbit population might make short work of the young plants. It was therefore with some trepidation that we revisited the area where the bee friendly plugs had been planted. Thankfully our worries were unfounded, and we were pleased to find that the plants were alive and healthy and had not succumbed to the rabbitsvoracious appetites. A further 110 plugs were planted, in and around the hive and in the woodland close by, in addition to the 40 planted last month. The full inventory includes greater and lesser knapweed, soapwort, purple violet, golden rod, wild primrose, birdsfoot trefoil, white and red clover, wild marjoram, field scabious and betony. I must also report that at the time of writing the Monarda (bee balm) seeds planted last month, which will also be added to the area around the Bee Hive, have still not germinated.

Elsewhere Volunteers were busy tidying up after the winter, sweeping paths in and around the Woodland and Pond Garden and generally preparing for the arrival of the Britain in Bloom judges. The judges duly arrived on a warm and sunny day.  Good weather always helps to make a good impression. The Volunteers, wearing badges of officialdom, dead headed daffodils, swept paths, cut back ornamental grasses and generally looked busy. Inside there was more seed packing; yes, we thought it was all over for another year as well! These were seeds bought in by Mike Hughes which are to be given out to children as part of National Gardening Week, 27 April to 5 May. Seeds including pea, snowball turnip, lettuce, marigold, nasturtium and antirrhinum were packaged and along with a pot, compost, label and pencil will be given to children visiting the Garden. We hope that the judges were suitably impressed.

Alex Taylor.