Our 50th Bluebell Walk
After all the excitement in the planning, this year certainly delivered a memorable 50th Bluebell Walk, but personally I will remember it for several significant, but wrong reasons:
However, one noteworthy thing to celebrate the 50 years milestone, was our garden bird feeding station, viewed on the screen in the Bluebell Barn. Modern technology also allowed those on our mailing list to watch, via YouTube, the birds busy feeding, but currently the camera is ‘off air’. We were not sure how much interest it would create, so it was agreed with the local company who installed it that it would be for the duration of the Walk only, so the camera, screen and wiring were removed soon after the 10th May! I explained that as it had created so much interest, it should be a year-round facility for all those who had ‘signed up’ to watch our garden birds from the comfort of their home. Apparently different equipment is needed to cope with weather throughout the year, so I patiently wait an update as this is the installer’s busy season! Once re-installed, an updated link will be sent to subscribers, who will again be able to watch the birds over the various seasons until it is Bluebell Walk time, then watch again in the Barn but on an even larger screen!
The monies raised by the 20 involved charities was £77,893 over the four weeks we were open, which makes the total raised since 1972 as £968,184, factor in inflation, it is well over £1.5 million!
Maintenance of Beatons Wood
An ancient wood is a growing entity like a garden, so if left entirely to nature, it will soon lose what was its initial attraction. I remember in the early years of the Bluebell Walk, there were areas of false oat-grass (Arrhenatherum elatius) slowly spreading its dense foliage year on year like an oil slick, obliterating the bluebells and anemones. It took many years of pulling to diminish their presence, as has been done and continues to be done with the brambles, which did not choke out the bluebells but just masks their presence.
Since the rapid disappearance of the rabbits about eight years ago, cleavers or Galium aparine (also known by a variety of local names), is not now being nibbled down when young. It is an annual task walking up and down looking for cleavers, often waving from an erect bluebell or more sneakily laying along the ground.
Timing is crucial as it is imperative that these are pulled up when in flower, while them stem is strong enough to pull in one go. Too early it breaks, but it must be before the seeds are set and get spread around! I get a great sense of achievement when finding a cluster of this pernicious weed, as if it is all carefully pulled up, then being an annual will not appear there again! I am slowly winning, as each year less time is needed, but as this image illustrates, on the boundaries it still lurks!
Removing young brambles is straightforward, as there is no time constraint. This maintenance is important to ensure we retain what local newspapers this year referred to as the ‘Best Bluebell Wood in Sussex’!
|BATES GREEN GARDEN|
Last week we hosted our inaugural Bates Green Garden Study Morning. The course was fully booked, and, by the smiles of everyone’s faces at the end of the morning, a good time was had by all.
The subject was The Establishment & Maintenance of Wildflower Lawns & Meadows, and we were fortunate to have Colin Reader, who is the owner of www.wildflowerlawnsandmeadows.com who supply unique wildflower seed mixes and provide an advisory service for creating and managing wildflower areas.
We learnt how important even a small patch of wildflowers is to increase the biodiversity of insects, birds and small mammals in your garden. Preparation is vital and then Nature does the rest.
Fortunately, we have a 6-acre wildflower meadow here at Bates Green Garden which has been managed under the Countryside Stewardship Scheme for over 20 years. The group enjoyed a sunny walk in our floriferous meadow, and we learnt how to identify the various species present. We all felt the benefit of spending time with likeminded people in a peaceful location immersing ourselves in nature. The ideal outdoor classroom.
Anu provided us all with very tasty cakes and scones in the Bluebell Barn Café and then everyone who could stayed on for some lunch so they could spend the afternoon in the Garden & Meadow.
Our next session will be held on Thursday 29th June when participants will learn the basics for taking summer cuttings. Propagation is a rewarding and economical way of increasing the number and variety of plants in your garden. On this Study Morning you will learn the technique of softwood and semi ripe cuttings. We will have a selection of popular plants for you to practice the technique on and you will leave with a new skill, confidence and your chosen pot of cuttings to grow on at home.
Please come and join us. All the details are on our website under the Visiting menu.
Emma Reece - Head Gardener
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This message was added on Wednesday 14th June 2023
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