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Volunteers' Blog - June & July 2021

June saw the Friends Plant Sale, another event which indicates a gradual return to normality.  Friends of the Garden gave generously from their gardens and Mike raided his glass houses and reserves of spare bedding plants.  The sun was out and the many visitors to the Plant Sale took the opportunity to acquire new plants in return for generous donations to the Friends.

After the drought of May, the much wetter weather of late June and July led to a proliferation of weeds across the Garden.  Working in many different areas of the Garden, and as all gardeners know, this task has no end.  Like Sisyphus, who in Greek mythology was condemned for all eternity to roll a boulder to the top of a hill each day only to have it roll down each evening, the Volunteers set to their task.  The wet soil did make the task somewhat easier and therefore a degree of order is beginning to be achieved.

One area we are continuing to work on is the Alpine Garden.  This is more of a holding operation at present.  You may remember that the Friends are financing the fencing of this area to prevent the incursion of rabbits. Once fenced and the gates rehung there will be renewed planting and the plaque in memory of Denis Mitchison, who did so much for the Garden will be installed.

It was lovely to see many Friends coming to the Garden in late June for the first of the post lockdown Garden Walks.  Mike was entertaining, not sure if that is the right word, a group of school children so the group, of around 20, were very ably conducted round the Garden by Bill. Refreshments were provided, as usual, in the polytunnel.  These walks will continue over the Summer on the last Wednesday of the month.

More recently the Volunteers have also been actively removing Himalayan balsam (Impatiens glandulifera) from the Garden. Himalayan balsam was introduced from the Himalayas in 1839 by Victorian plant hunters who were partial to its pink flowers and exploding seed pods. It has thrived in the UK, proliferating in damp areas and beside water courses. This success has become a problem, the proliferation of Himalayan balsam results in a decline native species reducing biodiversity. A particularly large patch close to the Cherry Circle kept the Volunteers gainfully employed for a morning with more still to do the following week.

In mid-July the Britain in Bloom Judges visited the Garden. Mike and his team have worked hard to make the Garden look at its best. The Volunteers in support of their efforts busied themselves with weeding, sweeping and generally tidying as the judges made their way round the Garden. Not stopping to talk with us this year, we were told they had a tight programme, we however hope they went off suitably impressed.

If you would like to join the Volunteers, just come along to the Garden on any Wednesday at 10 am and you will be made to feel very welcome.

Alex Taylor.