Tag Archives: In Bloom

Gold again for Leighton’s parks and gardens!

10 September 2019

We’ve just heard that Leighton Buzzard and Linslade has retained its Gold award from ‘Anglia In Bloom’ for the fourth year running – great news.

This is great recognition for all the work done over the past year by the In Bloom volunteers, the Town Council staff, and South Beds Friends of the Earth (who look after Linslade Memorial Gardens, and some 18 other wildlife-friendly sites round the town). And ‘Keep the Buzz in Leighton Buzzard’, the campaign run jointly by the Town Council and South Beds Friends of the Earth, was nominated in the Best Conservation Project category – that’s the community gardening equivalent of being nominated for an Oscar! We didn’t win it, but it’s not so much about winning, as about being assessed by experts and found to be doing a great job.

So thanks in particular to everyone who helps us look after Linslade Memorial Gardens – the team of local residents, members of South Beds Friends of the Earth who help in so many ways, the Town Council, who support us in everything we do here, the various organisations and businesses around town who collect leaves for us (to make leaf mould, which improves the soil), the many passers-by who stop to chat and encourage us and thank us, Mentmore Road Under-Fives, whose delight in the place is such a joy. Its great to be assessed as doing well; but mainly, it’s a privilege to be able to make these gardens a peaceful haven for people and wildlife, and, we hope, contribute to being a fitting memorial to those who gave their lives in war.

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!

 

A long hot summer

02 October 2018

It’s nearly three months since we managed to post on this blog; I’m sorry for the long silence. This summer has really taxed us, with much more watering than usual both at the gardens and on our own allotments and the other gardens we look after. There’s been a knock-on effect too, as we couldn’t move any plants or try and establish new ones during the drought and unusual heat, so there’s been a backlog of work which we’re only just getting done. And now we’re running straight into the leaf-collecting season – though for the first batch we had help from the local preschool, who had a great time on Monday helping load leaves into bags (and run through them, and run around with those big-hand leaf collectors which a couple of the boys felt made them into mini Incredible Hulks).

Our original plan for this year was to consolidate the planting, and to try and reduce volunteer hours as we’d just be maintaining the gardens, rather than rescuing them from the invasive plants like white clover and self-heal which were choking the beds when we took over. This year, we said, we’ll just be able to do a bit of deadheading and move a couple of plants that would be happier in other places, and perhaps add a few more plants that we’ll have grown ourselves.

Well, along with the bit of deadheading we’ve had to do much more watering – we usually try to water as little as possible, partly so as not to waste a valuable resource, and partly because plants grown ‘hard’ (with all they need, but not overfed or overwatered) seem to thrive better. But we did end up watering many parts of the beds with a hose five times in the last five months, and using watering cans for specific plants that weren’t sufficiently established before the heatwave started. These include the five new roses, which need a proper soaking every week for the first year or so even in normal weather, to encourage their roots to get down into the soil; so we’ve given each of them a couple of cans of water every week. At least the thick mulch of leaf mould we put on in May has helped keep what moisture there is deep in the soil, and watering most of the gardens once a month is probably not too bad for this year.

We didn’t manage to sow many hardy annuals as the ground was just too dry and we’d have been watering them every couple of days, though we did raise a few tomato plants with the preschool (and the fruits are just beginning to ripen now). Their peas and carrots didn’t survive the heat, though, and we’re rethinking what we do in their bit of the garden – for a start, we’re adding more herbs and some lamb’s ears (Stachys byzantina) as they love the smells of rosemary, mint and fennel, and the softness of the lamb’s ears leaves.

At least with the combination of heat that stopped many weeds from germinating, and mulch that kept light away from those that were there, we haven’t needed to weed the beds since July, just before the In Bloom competition this year. We had a lovely sunny day for the judges’ visit, with the preschool children out in force demonstrating just how much they love watering anything and everything. The whole team came along, too, including our invaluable Duke of Edinburgh’s award student Miles, who’s helped us so much this year.

And in September we heard that Leighton Buzzard had been awarded 12 Golds, 2 Silver Gilts, and two ‘Best in the region’ awards (for Linslade Wood and for the Tactic youth project). The gardens are part of Mentmore Road park, which was one of the sites awarded a Gold – it’s good to know we’re all on the right track!