An update from Sara Messenger of the Bradley Stoke in Bloom group.
For the last couple of months, we’ve felt like our daffodil bulbs – cold, wet and biding our time for warmer weather! Usually there is not much we can do in the winter months but plan for the spring. However, this year, this proved a bit harder to do as a third of our committee had gone on a long field trip to New Zealand!
January workday at The Common East
We weren’t entirely idle and our last workday saw us trying our hand at hedgelaying, which for most of the group was a first. The neighbours to the orchard on The Common East have had new fences put in which had opened up the boundaries, so rather than put in dull environmentally unfriendly wooden fences, we re-laid the hedge that had been put in by Patchway Conservation Group more than a decade ago. It’s quite a hard task, but what is not to like about being able to legally wander about with an axe in your hand! At the back of the orchard we put in what was known as a smugglers’ hedge, which is a double row with a gap in-between (this allowed the smugglers’ ponies to walk between the two hedges without being seen). Before any of you get ideas, it’s only a few feet long so you won’t get too far before you are spotted!
We also put in two hedgehog houses. We know it’s the wrong time of year, but we wanted them to be securely under the hedge before it establishes itself and we also managed to install another couple of bird boxes. Thank you to Judith H for the gift of two trees; we plan to use the rowan to fill in a gap in the orchard hedge.
Last year was the first year we pruned the orchard and we tried two different techniques. Not that I’m competitive, but judging by the amount of apples that still litter the ground where I did the ‘soft prune’, I think my method is the better one!
The weather was mostly kind on the day, although when Bristol promises rain, it never fails to deliver on its promise! But before we got drenched, we had a good day, made even better with homemade cakes made by the neighbour’s children and birthday cakes for both Rob and Ceri.
We’ve started clearing the Lapwing Close side of Primrose Bridge. This is an area that SGC has given us permission to take on and they had suggested a wildflower meadow, but it’s a grassy area popular with dog walkers and parents, so our suggestion to the residents was to get rid of the bramble and plant a live willow wigwam with a small children’s planting area (maybe in painted tyres). They have also asked for tree stumps for the children to sit on and a music tree, so we’ll see what we can do. It’s been amazing how quickly other plants are able to establish themselves once the bramble has been cleared and it’s already shown a great improvement.
We were lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time when Ambience Landscapes Ltd were putting down bark chippings and allowed us to have their surplus, which we used to improve the very muddy path here. It’s just a small thing but it’s made a big difference. Around the path and up the bank we also planted eight trays of primroses (a gift from SGC and Almondsbury Garden Centre), and in the spring we hope to plant wildflowers up the bank. It’s not good soil there (we needed a small mattock to plant the primroses), but this is ideal for wildflowers, so we’re hoping that by the summer it will be a blooming great area that everyone can enjoy!
We’re still waiting for permission from SGC to plant our ‘Tree Charter’ Scots pine, and although you may not be aware of it yet, we have planted a few hundred tulip and daffodil bulbs around the town. The bulbs we planted last year at the skate park have already begun to flower, so we hope the new ones will soon follow suit.
At the Manor Farm Roundabout corner, (by the Jubilee Centre) we were very disappointed to find several of our bushes have been cut down which has given the flower bed a rather bare look. We had hoped to use this bed for our judging this year, but we may now have to rethink our plans.
Photo: Archive photo of BSiB volunteers working on Brook Way in October 2016.
How to contact Bradley Stoke in Bloom:
This article originally appeared in the March 2018 issue of the Bradley Stoke Journal news magazine (on pages 20 & 21). The magazine is delivered FREE, EVERY MONTH, to 9,500 homes in Bradley Stoke, Little Stoke and Stoke Lodge. Phone 01454 300 400 to enquire about advertising or leaflet insertion.
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