Positive start to the year for the Bradley Stoke in Bloom volunteers

Photo of Bradley Stoke in Bloom volunteers with an insect hotel at Manor Farm Corner.

An update from Sara Messenger of the Bradley Stoke in Bloom group.

First of all, I must say a big welcome to our newbies, Tom, Stevie and Suzanna. I’m just hoping we didn’t put them off on their first day with the huge amount of work we all accomplished, although they were well rewarded in biscuits, and the rain did finally stop! After a slightly late start (mix up with the padlock keys) we began at the Manor Farm Corner (Brook Way / Savages Wood Road). Or maybe that should be corners, as we’ve taken over the adjacent corner as well. The established corner was weeded and pruned and we put in some of my personal favourites: hostas and irises which were a gift from Almondsbury Garden Centre. The ‘new’ corner saw the remaining bramble dug up, an ongoing and thankless task, and the border weeded. Photo of a young BSiB helper.Before we knew it, Suzanna had whizzed round and put in a very neat looking edge, so now not only does the dogwood add a welcome splash of winter colour, but it all looks so much more professional. Under the trees, we have left the dandelions, as these are one of the first plants to flower in the spring and they give the newly woken bees a much needed boost. And we have finally installed the insect hotel, which was made during a skate park working day. Although we have kept it low, so that it can’t be used to climb over the wall, it is still large enough for many insects and there is even space underneath for a hedgehog ‘des-res’. There are special places for butterflies to overwinter and for solitary bees to lay their eggs, as well as many snug hiding places for all manner of creepy crawlies to enjoy, although I do find that they tend to ignore our carefully designed plans and just go where they feel like! Tom added the finishing touches to Stevie’s roof, while a young Max helped us to put in a few more bee homes and then the job was done.

We then split the group, with two going off to the rose garden (near the doctors’ surgery on Brook Way) and spreading some more bark and pruning the roses, of which a surprising number still are in flower. The others headed off to The Common East, to remove the length of rusty barbed wire we found running along the hedge line, and we also found time to put up another four bird boxes.

We then regrouped at the Aztec triangle (on Bradley Stoke Way, opposite the Woodlands Lane junction) for some more weeding and planting. We also managed to plant some daffodils at the bus stop and put down some wild flower seed around the back. We are hoping that the bin will soon be re-installed here, as at present there is nothing. I had a really great day and I hope everyone else did too.

We have finally received a reply from the RHS and we hope to soon be able to re-register for the ‘In your neighbourhood’ scheme.

Volunteering isn’t all rain and muddy boots – sometimes we can scrub up well and get invited into the warm and dry lecture theatre at Bristol University to hear a wonderful talk on bees by the biologist, conservationist and professor of biology, David Goulson. David has moved on from his doomed youthful attempts at bee rescue (you’ll have to read his book to know the full story) and now specialises in the ecology and conservation of bumblebees, when he isn’t planting new wild flower meadows on his farm. He gave us plenty of tips for what we can do here to help our wild bees thrive (don’t worry about the honey bees; apparently there are three trillion of those) and also took the time to congratulate us on our own Bees’ Needs award.

All in all, a really positive start to the year, and we are feeling re-energised after the disappointments of late 2018.

Photos: 1 BSiB volunteers with an insect hotel at Manor Farm Corner. 2 Young BSiB helper.

Map of Bradley Stoke in Bloom’s work locations (under construction)

How to contact Bradley Stoke in Bloom:

This article originally appeared in the February 2019 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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