What a difference a few weeks makes! We can say that for two things at the Heritage Hub at the moment – the building and also the community garden!
Work began (in thought, anyway) on the garden last summer when we decided to see if we could make our current outdoor space into a wildlife-friendly, educational, safe haven for visitors, residents and of course the local wildlife – including provision for two beehives taking residence at one end of the garden. We approached the Cotswold Gardening School to see if their students would be able to create designs for the garden as part of their projects, and came up with some ideas on how to raise money for the garden and attract as many visitors as possible. By the end of last year we had eight designs to choose from: the one we chose was one that suited our brief best and since then we have been working closely with the designer to make the plan fit completely with what we had in mind.
Cotswold Gardening School students measuring the garden
Cotswold Gardening School students presenting their designs to Heritage Hub staff
We then started fundraising, using online crowdfunding and other sources to raise money for the garden. Young Gloucestershire’s Princes Trust team spent a couple of weeks with us in May. They planted wildflower seeds and also renovated our picnic tables and some “heritage pillars” from a demolished outbuilding (we hope to use these as part of a volunteers’ shelter). And then about two months ago, everything started to take shape. The flower and herb borders for the formal area of the garden (nearest the new Dunrossil Centre) were marked out and then dug over the space of a few weeks by some tireless volunteers, both from within our own staff and local people who wanted to help – this all took place during our heatwave so was hot and tiring work. On 29th July, the plants were due to be delivered, ready for planting out in the newly dug borders the following day.
One of four borders marked out to be dug out for plants, and Mark and Richard, two of our volunteers braving the heat to pull up the turf!
To cut a long story short, the plants actually arrived in the morning of the 30th July (apologies to anyone who was in the office with me on the 29th!) just as it started pouring with rain. However, our team of volunteers from the Cotswold Gardening School and the local area – and one member of staff – donned their raincoats and set to work planting out all the flowers, herbs and shrubs. Within a day, our formal area had been transformed from a large expanse of grass to a beautifully presented garden with a variety of wildlife-friendly, colourful and wonderfully scented plants.
The volunteers at the end of planting day!
The next step was to make sure all the plants could establish themselves and grow by watering them daily. Rotas were drawn up to make sure they were done every day (even if it rained!) and this will continue until the end of September. Again, this is being done with a mixture of staff (in their own time) and community volunteers. Luckily, the weather has been dreadful since they were planted so we haven’t needed to spend as much time watering as we would have done a month earlier.
One of the borders, the day after planting.
We then had a bit of a surprise on the weekend of the 10th/11th August, when our first colony of bees arrived in the garden rather sooner than intended. Unfortunately they were having some problems at the apiary they were being kept in (they were being bullied by another colony!), so rather than bring them home in October or March as intended, suddenly the Bee Team had to transport them quickly on the evening of 10th August. They are now in situ and at the time of writing seem to be doing well after a few days of getting used to their new home and their new foraging opportunities.
The temporary beehive, safely transported from a few miles away, and the first Gloucestershire Heritage Hub beehive with John and Ally, the Bee Team, who are very excited to have them on site!
So – what’s next for the garden?
There are still some plants to go in the current borders, some trees, and a “winter interest” border which will be the other end of the garden. We also hope to have a hoggin path that will lead from the formal garden towards the wild area.
Our Heritage Hub garden party will be held on the 8th September, 1.30-5.00. Everyone is welcome so why not come along and see our progress and plans for the next stage! Many thanks to all those who given up their time to help with the digging, planting and watering: Diana and the Cotswold Gardening School, Mark, Richard, Jonathan, Angela, John, Jenny, Andrew, Kate O, Kate M, Ally and Heather.