30 April 2020
A number of people have asked us where you can buy peat-free compost, and recently, we’ve also been asked where you can buy plants that have been grown in peat-free compost. I’ve been meaning to collect all the information together and publish it, but the list still wasn’t complete; then today, Nic Wilson, a great gardening writer and editor of Gardener’s World Magazine amongst others, announced on Twitter that she’d just published one on her great website, Dogwooddays. It’s at https://dogwooddays.net/2020/04/30/updated-peat-free-nurseries-list/
None of the nurseries are local to us, but many sell plants online; most of the plants here in the Garden of Remembrance were either propagated by members of the team, always in peat-free compost, or bought from some of these nurseries. Nic’s post links to their websites, and most of them include up to date information on how Covid-10 is impacting deliveries – you can still buy plants mail order from most of them, it’s just that delivery might take a little longer.
There’s also a link below the list to the Candide website, which has an excellent article by Nic Wilson on why peat-free compost is so important, at https://candidegardening.com/GB/stories/ea083986-c223-44f9-a50f-1ff2813cdf09.
Buying good peat-free compost locally may be a little harder as Potash Nursery is now closed; for the last few years they’ve stocked Melcourt’s Sylvagrow, which has produced really good results -some of the cheaper or own-brand ones can be tricky to use – but that applies to ordinary peat-based multipurpose composts, too. (I do look forward to the time when ‘ordinary’ means ‘peat-free’ when applied to compost).
Both Dalefoot and Sylvagrow are really excellent, and we’re beginning to think about buying a whole pallet of one of them later in the year, if enough people would want to buy a few bags. Watch this space, and let us know if you’d be interested!
11 April 2020
Thanks for the very rapid response – here are a few photos taken yesterday.
The ‘Thalia’ daffodils are fully out now. I don’t think there are any bees on this clump, but it’s always worth checking – quite often you think there’s nothing there, then some pollen-covered legs and a small furry backside reverse out of the trumpet and fly off.
The perennial wallflower is much further along, and once the pulmonaria has died back, this is the flower bees seem to go for most. It should carry on blooming at this rate for a few months, and there’ll still be flowers on it well into winter.
The wild flower bed nearest the car park does look scrappy at the moment, but it’ll soon take shape as the poppies and cornflowers grow. Red deadnettle is already flowering there – it’s one of bees’ favourite foods, and will contribute to the understorey protecting the soil and keeping the food supply going long after the poppies have faded.
Incidentally, some people who take photos want to remain anonymous; others would be happy to be credited. If you send us photos, please tell me which you’d like – anonymity or a credit.
09 April 2020
In my last post, I said we were planning to watch the gardens more closely, as we couldn’t work there. A couple of days later, I had a text telling me I was in the group that needs to stay at home for twelve weeks – so there won’t be any photos from me after all.
So let’s try it another way – if anyone’s going through the gardens during their daily exercise, please could you take a photo of anything that strikes you – something new that’s come into bloom or bees clustering round particular plants (like the perennial wallflower, Erysimum ‘Bowles’ Mauve’ which flowers all year, even in January; bees love it).
I’d even like to see which seedlings are coming through, that’s what we were particularly hoping to watch – many of the best plants for bees have been self-seeded poppies, Californian poppies, phacelia, marigolds and others. They may include thistles, dandelions or groundsel – we don’t have too many perennial weeds in the beds, so I don’t see these annual wild flowers as a problem this year; it won’t take us long to restore order in a few months, so let’s leave them and just observe what really happens when the gardens are left to themselves.
Send any photos to us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll post them here, or on the Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/LinsladeMemorialGarden/.
05 April 2020
Well, they were good plans, while they lasted; but three days after the last blog post, the whole country was put into lockdown because of the coronavirus, to prevent overwhelming hospitals with patients with Covid-19. So all work has stopped at the gardens, and we never did have the preschool spreading leaf mould, or sowing peas. There’ll be time for the leaf mould when this is all over; but no veg for them this season, sadly.
We’re allowed to go out once a day for exercise, so we need to change our usual plan of moving things around and increasing the number of flowers out when the In Bloom judges come round in July. We won’t work round there, but will instead see what happens when it’s left to itself. I’ll take photos as the gardens change and post pictures here, and on our Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/LinsladeMemorialGarden/.
We’ll also change the focus of this blog for the moment, to post more about how to garden for wildlife even in small spaces, linking to people using plants and ideas we haven’t used here yet, and trying to keep more up to date with the original ‘plant of the month’ feature we ran before gardening at more sites took time from blogging. We may also post photos from various sister sites like the wild flower site by the canal on Linslade Memorial Playing Field, the Pocket Park at the (now deserted) station, and the patch of shady ground outside Bossard House on West St.
Here’s the garden as it was today – the first Thalia daffodils are out (they’re the smaller white ones, that bees love), the primroses in the wild flower bed are in full bloom, and that glorious flowering cherry in the corner is just about to come into flower again:
20 March 2020
A month after our last post, and the garden’s really beginning to wake up, with a lot more colour. Some of that comes from the foliage plants we’ve put in, particularly in the bottom two beds nearest the war memorial, but also, a little blue from pulmonaria and grape hyacinths, that the bees love.
We weeded the lavender borders today, to start smartening the place up after the long winter; next week we’ll ask the preschool to come round and help us spread leaf mould under the plants, which keeps moisture in, and shows the blue-grey of the plants off well against the dark leaf mould. And the children love spreading it.
Note for anyone reading this in the future: due to the coronavirus pandemic, we were very careful to social distance (= keep at least two metres apart) while working; there were only two of us, and we worked at opposite ends of the flower beds. We haven’t quite worked out how we’ll manage with the preschool children, but we have time to think about it.
There’s also more colour in the beds that get most sunshine, nearer the car park:
And there were plenty of bees around, mainly the large queen buff-tailed bumble bees emerging from hibernation and needing to build up their strength for nesting and producing the next generation.