Chances are if you've visited Millennium Country Park in recent years then you've definitely seen the handiwork of our dedicated Volunteer Gardens!

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.

At the beginning of the month we were not able to work in the Sensory Garden as it was being used for our Jurassic themed children’s event - this gave us the perfect opportunity to visit a local nursery in order to buy plants for the new flower beds around the arbour.

We purchased an evergreen jasmine that has small, white, fragrant flowers and also carries an RHS Award of Garden Merit (AGM). We also purchased some erigeron and white flowered Bergenia. The erigeron is low growing and has an abundance of small white flowers that turn pink and is very popular with bees. Later that afternoon we planted the beds with our purchases and also added lavender and geraniums from our own gardens. All of these plants will attract pollinators. We also added some small labels identifying the plants and hope that we have enhanced the arbour and provided a pleasant and informative seating area for our visitors.

The dogwood has become rather rampant so we spent an afternoon cutting it back and giving it a general prune, which has allowed more light into the flower beds. The dogwood also produces a lot of suckers which we remove with some difficulty! The hazel trees were also starting to produce nuts which are popular with the mice and squirrels and the nuts quickly disappeared.

We continued with some general weeding and cutting back. We moved some sisyrinchium and planted a couple of santolina. These have a very fragrant grey foliage (smelling rather like curry) and little yellow pompom type flowers.

The echinops and phlox are now in flower and are attracting a lot of bees. We have also spotted quite a few dragonflies and damselflies in the Sensory Garden, and were amused to observe a wasp that seemed to be intoxicated staggering along the path! It seems that wasps are affected by sap from willow trees. One theory is that they eat aphids that extract the sap from the trees. Willow trees are one source of salicylic acid which is a main ingredient of aspirin, so this may be to blame.

We are interested to know what mammals there are in the gardens. To this end, the mammal trapping group are planning to conduct a survey in the near future.

We have started to pot up plants (using peat free compost) as we thin them out and are starting to sell them to raise funds for the Forest Centre - so far the sales have been good and we are starting to have a frequent sales table on  Wednesdays.

We continue to engage with our visitors who often show an interest in what we get up to in the garden. We were particularly pleased when a photography group visited and their leader commented that the gardens were ideal for them to practise flower photography.

As mentioned in a recent article we have now purchased a Captain Tom rose which we will be planting in a prominent position in the Sensory Garden.

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:

Become a Friend of the Forest