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.

Image: White mop head hydrangea, Pauline Lazell

July in the gardens

With the warm weather and heavy rain everything is growing rather quickly!

A lot of plants have now finished flowering and are setting seed, so we have cut back a number of the more invasive varieties and completely removed some. We have had a good show of poppies this year and have removed the leaves but kept the upright stems and seed heads to give some vertical structure in the raised beds. They will obviously disperse their seed but the seedlings can easily be removed in areas where they are not required.

Image: Captain Tom rose, Pauline Lazell

In the Sensory and Wildlife Garden there is still a lot of colour. The white Mop Head Hydrangea has given a good show as has the Captain Tom rose which is now looking much healthier. The Persicaria is also in full flower. There are a number of wildflowers here as well, and the Purple Loosestrife has been particularly colourful. Unfortunately the Lavatera is not looking very healthy. A main stem broke off earlier in the year and another branch looks in a poor way. We feel that its days are numbered but we have taken a number of cuttings which we can hopefully use to replace it.   

We were very pleased to find three Bee Orchids growing on the edge of the Sensory and Wildlife Garden. We have had the occasional Bee Orchid in the past but they don’t seem to reappear the following year. They reproduce by releasing thousands of spores but they don’t have their own food reserves and can’t germinate alone. They have to form a relationship with mycorrhizal fungi in order to germinate. Here’s hoping that this symbiotic relationship will be achieved for us in the future.

Our compost bins are rather decrepit, but are due to be replaced in the near future. We emptied bin one and bagged up a lot of the compost and used some to top dress the beds around the Arbour. We then turned the contents of bin two into bin one. We had intended to the same with the third bin but discovered a wasps nest there so left it alone.

Image: Crocosmia lucifer, Pauline Lazell

On the long border the Dogwood trees had to be cut back again as they were over hanging the garden and shading the plants growing there.

We are still seeing a lot of bees in the garden as well as dragonflies, particularly the Ruddy Darters. A few plants had caterpillars on them. We haven’t seen many birds in the garden but did see three Red Kites together flying overhead recently.

We are still putting out plants for sale and now have a good and varied stock on offer. Sales have slowed down a bit but we do hope to sell a lot at the Family Fun Day on the 2nd of September.  Book your tickets now!

Image: Ruddy Darter Dragonfly, Mike King

You can get involved in supporting your local Forest, join us today and become a volunteerFrom wildlife surveys, gardening and supporting events, there is something for everyone!

Interested? To find out more or register your interest contact our Community Engagement Officer