An update from Sara Messenger of the Bradley Stoke in Bloom group.
We’ve had a very mixed few months. When the heatwave finally broke, we hoped to get some planting done only to be thwarted by a constant deluge that would have defeated even Noah! Our Beehive Roundabout only thrives because of the neighbours who water it for us. Our Rabbit Roundabout’s giant carrots and Palmers Corner are mainly cared for by group member Andy, who also has to cut the grass here as SGC refuse to add it to their programme, even though they cut the grass on the other three corners. We did, however, finally manage to get on with some planting and the doctors’ surgery garden and the community herb planters are once again blooming, as are the ‘welcome’ planters.
Although we lost a few plants at the Aztec Triangle, most of it has now grown just a little too well and we’ve had to trim a lot of it back. It seems a gardener’s work is just never done! As it’s so close to the road, we planted for looks rather than wildlife, but we were amazed with just how many butterflies were flitting around this patch and we also found several rather striking pale tussock caterpillars, which we returned to munch their way through whatever they pleased. We also cleared all the nettles and bramble from around the bus stop and have planted some wild flower seeds there, although at the moment I think a bin is a higher priority as the area always appears to be covered in litter and cigarette ends.
The Common East continues to be a source of much frustration. Our butterfly bushes have again been cut down and we removed part of the bench after it was broken yet again. And although I think we’ve fixed the leaking overflow, the pond continues to be quite low on water.
We were so disappointed to be told that vandals had pulled our decoy ducks, Barry and Kate, out of the water and had ripped their heads off and stamped on the bodies. Many of the local school children were hugely upset to see their mangled remains, so we removed the pieces the next day. We have bought new ones but are reluctant to put them out when it is felt by some of the group that they will suffer the same fate. Our gnomes and butterfly boxes on the island had also previously been broken beyond repair, and much as I would hate to be defeated by the poor behaviour of a few (I prefer to see the problems as a black cloud that momentarily blocks the sun rather than a permanent thunderstorm), there is only so much of our budget that we can spend on replacing things. The hedge to the orchard has had to be repaired again and someone came in and removed every apple, every pear and every plum, which was hugely disappointing as we’d been approached by a juicer and a pickle maker who had offered to make us some produce to sell. At the same time, the pot we put in place to protect the ground dwelling bees nest was removed and now there remains nothing but an empty nest.
On a positive note, we spent a couple of sessions there with Green Gym and have scythed the meadow and cleared all the bramble from the back entrance of Wheatfield School and Primrose Bridge (sometimes I think this is all we do). While doing this we discovered huge cracks in the cycle path, many several foot long and 4-5 inches wide in places. We reported the problem to Streetcare, and although they later assured us the job had been completed, when we checked we could find no evidence of any repairs. Neither have any of the missing fence panels been replaced.
While at the SGC annual volunteers celebration, we met the chap from SGC who is in charge of commons and now we finally have some wording for a not entirely serious ‘common land notice’ which we had planned to put on the original common gate which was rescued from under the hedge and put up by the bench.
Bluebell Corner on Savages Wood Road has also had a tidy up and the cherry tree is doing well. We didn’t want to remove the dead tree here as it lends itself well to seasonal decorations, so we’ve given it some summer colour by planting jasmine and clematis to grow up it.
Although we’ve had to put on hold several new projects (including Manor Farm Roundabout and the pond area at Jubilee Green), we have taken on the corner on the other side of Manor Farm Roundabout as it had become a dumping ground for broken fences and green waste. We have tidied the area and put in lots of lilies along the fence line. We have also planted bamboo behind this, which we hope will screen off from view the tatty bits and hopefully a new low-level insect hotel will complete the corner. Although we were not surprised to find litter and a few stray footballs here, we were surprised to find hiding in the depths a full sharps box, a hard hat, 20p and a toy rhino!
We responded to a plea from the Wheatfield Primary School PTA and Andy and I, along with our friend Gill, spent a rather hot afternoon rediscovering the school’s wildlife pond, which, rather like the bottom of my ironing pile, hadn’t seen sunlight for many a month! It had sadly become just a tad overgrown both around the edges and in the pond itself, but with just a few hours work we managed to restore it to its former glory. We have since offered to return to help out with their neglected planting boxes. In previous years, we have helped create their wild walk and willow tunnels, as well as planting hedges, and it was great to see that they were all doing well.
In return for tea and biscuits we’ve again been helping out at the skate park, as we’re hoping that we will be able to grow hops and grapes along the school path fence. Now where did I put my demijohns?
Photos: 1 Vandalised decoy ducks at The Common East. 2 Cleared and planted ground at Manor Farm Corner. 3 Bradley Stoke Skate Park.
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This article originally appeared in the November 2018 issue of the Bradley Stoke Journal magazine (on pages 14 & 15). The magazine is delivered FREE, EVERY MONTH (except August), to ALL 8,700 homes in Bradley Stoke. Phone 01454 300 400 to enquire about advertising or leaflet insertion.
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