Chances are if you've visited Millennium Country Park in recent years then you've definitely seen the handiwork of our dedicated Volunteer Gardeners! PaulineMike, Helen, Diane and David meet at Millennium Country Park every week - come rain or shine! - and look after the day-to-day maintenance of the garden areas that our visitors love so much.

Each month they'll be giving us an update on what they've been up to in the Park, and features to look out for on your next visit.

Picture of a Cornflower supplied by the Forest of Marston Vale Gardening Volunteers

Image: Cornflower, FoMV Gardening Volunteers

Another busy month - the weather was very dry which meant that the ground was very hard in places! 

We've had an ongoing problem with dogwood suckers in the side garden - the dogwoods send out horizontal roots just under the surface and the suckers grow up from these. In consequence we spent a couple of sessions root pruning. We found this quite challenging as some of the roots were over eight feet long and up to an inch in diameter. This, combined with the hard soil, proved to be rather difficult!

Another task that we undertook was to cut down the bamboo near the willow arches. This provided us with a lot of canes, some of which we used to form a screen at the back of the small border near the bird house. We also added some new plants in this border including an everlasting wallflower (erysimum) and a pulmonaria. 

Picture of new canes installed by the Forest of Marston Vale Gardening Volunteers

Image: FoMV Gardening Volunteers

We raked up a lot of dried leaves and grasses all around the Sensory Garden and added these to the compost bins. Unfortunately this meant that two of the bins were full of dry material which will not rot down very quickly. We decided to empty the first bin so that we could turn the other material into it adding grass cuttings bought in from home. This should provide a better structure and enable it to rot down much better. But emptying the first bin provided us with a problem: we would normally have used the compost to mulch the gardens but the soil is far too dry at the moment. So we moved it all - in quite a few barrow loads! - and piled it up in a corner of the garden for use as a mulch when we have had some rain.

Later in the month we checked the roof garden on top of the bug house near the outdoor classroom and were horrified to find the soil completely dried out and most of the plants dead or dying. In addition there was a large ants nest at the back. The only solution was to remove all of the soil, weed out dead roots and dispose of the ants nest. Having done that we returned the soil and gave it a good watering. We will need to add some more topsoil and grit and, when it has settled, replant it. The intention is to replant with native sedums and sempervivums which are much more drought tolerant.

We were very pleased to see how well the pasque flowers (pulsatilla vulgaris) have done in the Smudge Garden providing us with some lovely flowers this year. We had collected seed from one of our gardens and grown them on. We planted three plants last year and they produced a few flowers and obviously some seed as we now have five plants! These are a native plant that produce bell shaped mauve flowers and lovely seed heads. Once established they are long lived and will produce lots of offspring.  

Picture of a pasque flower supplied by the Forest of Marston Vale Gardening Volunteers

Image: Pasque flower, FoMV Gardening Volunteers

The comfrey in the Sensory and Wildlife Garden are now in full flower as are the cornflowers and the peony is just starting to bloom.

We have just started selling our plants again and have an even wider selection this year. All of our plants are grown in peat free compost and we only use wooden labels. The plants only cost £2 and all the money goes into the volunteers fund and helps us to buy potting compost and the occasional plant. Plants will be available for sale on Wednesdays from 11am - 2pm (or until we sell out) just opposite the entrance the Sensory Garden.

As always, its nice to chat to our visitors! One particular group last month were from the RSPB in Harpenden on their first visit to the Millennium Country Park. They were very impressed and said they would be back! We hope to see them - and you - again very soon.

We need support to grow and look after our green spaces

Our volunteers kindly donate their time to help us plant trees and look after our Community Woodlands and Millennium Country Park. For just over £1 per week you can help support us too:

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