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Volunteers' Blog - September & October 2021

As the summer fades into autumn, the Volunteers have continued to work hard in the Garden. We have continued to tackle the Himalayan balsam which has invaded far more prolifically than we originally thought. After the larger groves were pulled up many smaller plants were found, particularly lurking under shrubs and trees in the North American section of the Arboretum. We remain hopeful that by putting in much effort this year this invasive species will be far less prevalent next year. Time will tell.

There have been many other tasks to keep us busy. Dead heading the Geraniums and Helichrysums, found in the large flowerpots around the terrace, along with sweeping and removing weeds from between the paviers are weekly tasks. We have also continued to weed the Alpine Garden along with the New Zealand, Australian and Tasmanian beds just outside. In addition, we are in the process of edging the paths next to the wildflower meadow and pond.

Last week only a few packets of the Friends seeds were left for purchase in the Visitor Centre. However, in the words of the late great Frankie Howard “Panic ye not”, members of the Volunteer group have been busy collecting seed heads in preparation for the new season. Leaving a significant length of stalk on the flower head enables the seeds to set, even if not quite ripe at the time they are removed from the plant. Once removed, from the parent plant, the seed heads are placed in a paper bag or cardboard box and left to dry out thoroughly. Over the winter the Volunteers will clean the seeds of their chaff before packaging and labelling with suitable description and instructions on when and where to sow. The sale of seeds is a significant source of income for the Friends of the Garden.

The anniversary maps of the Garden, drawn by local artist Juliet Percival, have been very popular. Replenishing the stock of these anniversary maps has become a regular task for a few Volunteers. Each map is carefully rolled then tied with ribbon before being placed in the large flowerpot next to the seed display. If you haven’t picked one up there is still time.

Over the coming weeks we are going to be working in the Woodland Garden. The primulas, that look so wonderful in the Spring, have run amok reducing the width of the paths. These escapees will be potted up ready for the Friends plant sale next year. Ferns, brambles, horsetails and other weeds that have become resident will be removed and the whole area given a general tidy.

We have had several Friends join the Volunteer group over the past couple of months. If you would like to join them and the rest of the Volunteer team on a Wednesday morning you will be made very welcome.

Alex Taylor.