Posts Tagged ‘Bradley Stoke in Bloom’

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

Posted on Wednesday 13th February 2019 at 9:35 pm by SH (Editor)

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.

More: The rose garden, The Common East and Aztec Triangle »

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Bradley Stoke in Bloom volunteers frustrated by bureaucracy

Posted on Saturday 19th January 2019 at 6:33 pm by SH (Editor)

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

As 2018 draws to a close, we look back at what we’ve achieved this year and although we didn’t get done all I had hoped to, we have, for such a small group, achieved quite a bit! High points were winning the Bees Needs’ award (for The Common East), our giant carrots at Rabbit Roundabout, the Primrose Bridge steps (see photo, below) and judging the fabulous gardens that were entered for our ever-expanding Best Front Garden competition. But there have been many low points – vandalism and graffiti lowers the morale of the group, our inability to reconnect with the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) and their ‘In your Neighbourhood’ scheme and the lack of communication and support from South Gloucestershire Council (SGC), to name but a few.

The Bees Needs’ award has placed a spotlight on our work and the lack of any agreement with SGC. We have recently had a meeting with one of their officers and I am trying very hard to view our discussions in a positive light, in the hope of finally securing a positive working relationship with them, although I have yet to be convinced that this can be achieved. They seem terribly keen to ‘manage’ the group, which is great if you want compliance, but if you want engagement and creativity then self direction works better. We did in the beginning try very hard to agree a direction with SGC, but with every request being met with either a refusal or silence, we chose to do what I’m told every other ‘in Bloom’ group does, and just get on with it. ‘Better to seek forgiveness than permission’ has been suggested as a new strap line!

We are funded by Bradley Stoke Town Council, who seem to trust the knowledge and judgement of their volunteers. They understand that too many rules prevent innovation and originality and destroy the intrinsic motivation of people who volunteer because they enjoy it, find it interesting and want to be part of something that is important, both to themselves and to their community. But others seem reluctant to agree to anything, thinking they are insuring against disaster, but what they’re ensuring is mediocrity. Too many petty rules and we lose our spirit. Hopefully, they will listen to us this time as, ironically for an ‘in Bloom’ group, we do not have an infinite supply of olive branches!

And on that positive note, we really need more volunteers! I would like to see our website given an overhaul (not something I can do) and we really need more help on our workdays. You don’t need to have much experience or a great knowledge of gardening (green side up, brown side down covers most of it), but you will need working boots, a smile, an ability to eat vast amounts of biscuits and a desire to see our little town bloom! Make 2019 your year to grow, not just greenery for your town but for you to grow as a member of this community!

More: Photo of rainbow steps. Contact details for BSiB. »

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Common buzzing again thanks to award-winning project

Posted on Wednesday 19th December 2018 at 9:40 pm by SH (Editor)

Photo of Cllr Paul Hughes with StreetCare staff, volunteers from Bradley Stoke Green Gym & Bradley Stoke in Bloom and children from Wheatfield Primary School.

A South Gloucestershire Council (SGC) community project has won a national award for creating a wildlife haven at The Common East in Bradley Stoke.

The project picked up a Bees’ Needs Award 2018 during a ceremony at Kew Gardens on 13th November, hosted by Defra and Green Flag Award, in recognition of the work done to transform the site into a wildflower meadow to encourage pollinators and make it a pollinator-friendly habitat.

In recent years, the common had been unmanaged and the grassland was overgrown with brambles and scrub, so a project was devised to bring it back into active management whilst enhancing the community space for pollinating insects.

Working with national wildlife charity Buglife’s Urban Buzz project, the council set out to turn the site into a buzzing hotspot.

Last autumn, the scrub was cut back and the land prepared for sowing. Pupils from Wheatfield Primary School, which borders the common, visited the site and spread wildflower seed mix with the chair of the council.

Heavy snow covered the common last winter, but the hot summer produced a blaze of colourful flowers for bees and other insects to enjoy. Ecologists have surveyed the site and recorded a high variety of wildflowers, including an abundance of yellow rattle, which will weaken the grass, enabling more space for wildflowers to grow.

This autumn, volunteers from the town’s Green Gym and Bradley Stoke in Bloom cut the meadow with traditional scythes. The cuttings were stacked and left for a few weeks before the council collected it to be composted.

More: "A very successful and important community partnership" »

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Varied few months for the ‘in Bloom’ team

Posted on Tuesday 13th November 2018 at 6:13 pm by SH (Editor)

Photo of vandalised decoy ducks at The Common East.

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.

More: Wheatfield School, Manor Farm Corner and the skate park »

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