Tag Archives: gardening in shade

Green ripples

6 June 2019

Over the years, we’ve been very happy to discover that we’ve helped in a small way to spread the idea of gardening for bees and wildlife, and of how it’s possible to create small gardens on unused patches of ground. One unintentional consequence of these gardens, and SBFoE’s other eighteen bee-friendly sites around the town, has been to inspire other people to include a few bee-friendly plants in their gardens.

Recent posts on the blog have described how we’ve been supplying our sister site outside Bossard House in West Street, opposite Leighton-Linslade In Bloom’s stunning drought garden, which inspired us to try a north-facing drought garden; we’ll be posting soon about the Pocket Park up next to the railway station, which the team has also been helping with (another shade garden, only this time there are three trees there as well which keep most of the rainfall off the ground below, and there’s only a few inches of soil there anyway, just to keep us on our horticultural toes).

And there’s a much smaller site inspired by this place – if you ever go to the Majestic wine warehouse on Leighton Road, next to St Christopher’s garage, look out for the two green ‘cycle park’ troughs outside the doors – they were also planted up by the team working here, and now the staff there look after them. A year ago they were just bare earth, unloved and unused; then some of the In Bloom volunteers gave the staff a few plants that had been left over from their plant stall in June 2018, and the staff asked one of the Memorial Gardens team for advice when they wanted to build on that gift. We were standing talking next to a display of craft gins, many of which referred to the ‘botanicals’ used to flavour them – and suddenly, we had a theme! So you’ll see rosemary, lavender, thyme, sage, mint, lemon balm and other bee-friendly plants that are sometimes used to flavour or colour gins. Originally the planters were sited on the corner of the building by the wide drive, which meant they got quite a bit of sunshine and the Mediterranean herbs thrived; now they’ve been moved to the doorway, they get a lot of light but not much sunshine. So we’re already looking out for shade- and bee-friendly gin botanical plants for them – any ideas would be welcome!

The current exception to the ‘botanicals’ theme is the acid-yellow nemesia, which is there just because we wanted to inject some colour into the planting and couldn’t resist these plants from local nursery Potash Plants – perhaps we were thinking of the ‘amnemesia’ that might follow over-indulgence!

 

Supplying some of our sister sites – Bossard House in West St (1)

23 May 2019

When the current team took over managing the Memorial Gardens, we were quite daunted by the amount of empty space in the various beds. So we set to, sowing seeds, splitting plants up and growing them on, transplanting toadflax, foxgloves and other plants from our own gardens and allotments, and generally trying to populate the beds with bee-friendly plants. And now we’re actually running out of space! And we’re able to pass some plants on to some of our sister sites.

Most recently we’ve been working on the South Beds Friends of the Earth site outside the Jobcentre Plus offices in Bossard House on West Street. It’s a difficult site, north facing with much of the site never seeing the sun; but the front is in full sun for much of the afternoon in late spring and summer, so we can’t use too many plants that like deep shade.

Job Centre Plus staff members with the South Beds Friends of the Earth members in June 2017

The team working there added a lot of manure to the site in May 2017 to improve the soil’s structure and its ability to hold moisture, so they could water less often. That still seems to be working well – a number of passers-by have commented on the ‘triffid’ in the centre, a magnificent stinking hellebore plant (a horrible name for a beautiful UK native plant), which has grown huge on the manure, and flowered magnificently. Last autumn we were able to add some Welsh poppies, water avens, foxgloves and meadow cranesbill and a beautiful St John’s Wort shrub which had outgrown its home, all spare plants from the Memorial Gardens.