In mid-November we held another working party on our allotment site, Bowbrook Allotment Community. This will be the last one this year and our aim was to plant a new hedge along the bare green fence that serves as the boundary to our site extension. We hoped also to plant the thousands of bulbs donated by our members. The green security fencing looks so bare at the moment so we can’t wait for our new hedge to hide it.
Recently we have been trying to involve whole families in our working parties and we hoped some youngsters would turn up to our hedge planting day as it was a rare opportunity for them. These days few children get the chance to plant a native tree.
We were awarded a pack of 460 native trees to plant by the Woodland Trust and had been given others by members and locals so we had well over 500 to plant. They were seedlings of hawthorn, blackthorn, hazel, rowan, birch, oak and all about 18 inches tall. We had guelder rose, dogwood and dogroses to add from elsewhere on the site. The Woodland Trust were able to give many sites like ours packs of trees because of the generosity of Biffa, Ikea and Nicky’s.
The trees, canes and tubes arrived at our house a few days before and the boxes were mighty heavy to deliver up to the lotties.
The day before the working party we mixed the plants up to make sure the planting looked random and natural. We placed a selection of little trees, canes and protection tubing alongside each section of hedge ready for a quick start in the morning.
With heads down and bottoms up Pete and I busily made our way along the stretch of fencing – we did need some time out around noon to straighten out, rest our backs and refresh ourselves with coffee and biscuits.
Twenty five members of all ages turned up to help us plant our new hedge including children, their parents and grandparents. Several were started way before our planned starting time. It was heartening to see them all sharing the experience together. We were amazed how the children all managed to find little creatures as they busily planted away, such as worms, beetles, slugs and spiders. Little hands carefully held them like precious jewels as they were all studied in great detail.
Jude, our community secretary and my “better half”, caught up on all the children’s news since we last met with the two little girls from our neighbouring plot. She heard all about the birthday party they held on the allotments using the picnic benches under the old oak tree and enjoyed following the trail and doing the quizzes with their friends.
Three generations, Syd, his daughter and granddaughters, helped each other to plant the little plants, but progress was slowed every time a mini-beast was discovered as granddad had to move them to safety, even a big slug!
Within half an hour of our ten o’clock start members were heads down hard at work along the whole length of fence.
Below Margaret is enjoying her first ever Bowbrook Allotment Community working party having started on her plot in the spring, while close by Anne and Charlie work in top gear to get as much done as possible before they have to go elsewhere for a family gathering in the afternoon.
The day started off chilly but before the end of the morning jackets were discarded and hung up on the fence. Sherlie and Pete in the photo below had been hard at work since 8:30 so straightening up afterwards was a bit of a struggle.
There were some stunning wellies on display.
Amazingly all the plants were snug in their new homes within an hour and a half. It goes without saying that we had earned our lunch break. The children went off at lunchtime as they all had other activities to attend in the afternoon such as dance lessons. We hoped they were not too tired to enjoy their afternoon activities. Those who stayed for the afternoon creaked more than a little when they returned to new tasks.
After a good rest with chatter and laughter we moved on to plant thousands of bulbs. Tulips, Daffodils, Muscari, Alliums, Camassias, Crocus, Iris and Fritillaries. We already have planted thousands of flowering bulbs, both spring and summer flowering over the four autumns we have been in existence. This year we intended to add to those already in the two orchards, the car park borders and under the mature oak and sycamore trees. In late winter and early spring these flowering bulbs will appear to brighten us up and provide our pollinator friends and our natural pest controllers with some vital nutrition.
To finish the day off a few of us stayed to move some hedging plants from elsewhere on the site.
A busy, successful and most fruitful day, which displayed just what a true community of gardeners can achieve by working together. We hope these activity days help to ensure we encourage and nurture interest in our naturalists and gardeners of the future.