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.

Mike writes...

With the hot weather and torrential rain this month everything was growing rapidly!

At the beginning of the month we concentrated on the Smudge Garden because it was half term and the ever popular children’s activities were taking place in the Sensory Garden. This involved spending time on our hands and knees fine weeding the brick scree areas. There were a lot of grasses growing together with some seedlings from the mexican feather grass, all of which we removed. Later we trimmed back the wallflower shrubs and planted two ferns in the shaded area. We were pleased to see the new astrantia in full flower at the front of the garden.

Most of the rest of the month we concentrated on the Sensory Garden. We started to place large wooden labels at different parts of the garden inviting people to touch or smell certain plants and identifying others. These labels were kindly produced by one of our other Forest of Marston Vale volunteers.

We removed the forget-me-nots which had gone over, having provided a good source of food for pollinators and some moths whose caterpillars eat the leaves. This left us with the Velcro like seed covering our gloves and fleeces which is rather difficult to remove! We also removed some comfrey which had seeded in other parts of the garden - we do like to keep it confined to the one place.

As we worked in the garden it was nice to hear the bird song including the cuckoo making itself known

The thrift in the roof garden of the large insect house gave a good show and there was a lot of colour generally in the garden. Penstemons, nigella, sisyrinchium and geraniums all provided a good display and the philadelphus was particularly good this year, all of which provide excellent nectar sources for the many bees in the garden. Smaller plants included quaking grass, and we were very pleased to find a solitary bee orchid on the periphery of the garden.

We haven’t seen many butterflies yet this summer, just the occasional brimstone, common blue and some ringlets. We were also a little disappointed that the mason bees have not made use of the new mini bug house; perhaps the leaf cutters may be more interested!

The clematis and vines by the arbour are growing rapidly so we tied them in again. Unfortunately, three didn’t survive so we hope to replace them later in the year with honeysuckle which will provide both colour and fragrance in the area. The clematis by the bridge also had to be cut down when the roof was replaced so, again, we started to tie in the regrowth.

We were surprised to find wasps building a nest hanging down underneath part of the fence on the long border. Wasps make their nests from chewed wood pulp and saliva, giving them distinctive papery walls. A lot of people don’t like wasps but they are very useful in the garden eating pests such as aphids. Sadly this discovery did have to be removed as it was very close to the pathway and the children's play area, so with visitor safety in mind Head Ranger Anna was able to call in one of her contacts to assist.

The RHS has recently announced that harkness roses have produced two new roses one of which they have named after Captain Tom (the other was named after Aneurin Bevan the founder of our amazing NHS). It might be appropriate for us to purchase one of the Captain Tom roses for the Sensory Garden later in the year although it does seem a little strange to name a red rose after a Yorkshire man!

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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