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.

Large pink blossoming flower overhanging a wooden garden fence

Banner image: Lavatera, Mike King

June was generally a dry month with some rain, but the ground was very hard and difficult to work on!

We spent a couple of sessions working in the Smudge Garden - the brick scree areas needed some fine weeding on hands and knees (which was quite time consuming!) and on one occasion we looked up to find a group of lower school children leaning against the fence watching out every move! They were interested in what we were doing and we engaged in a lively conversation. They told us about the pond dipping that they had been doing and listed a lot of the creatures that they had found including tadpoles, newts and water scorpions. They also pointed out some cuckoo spit that they had noticed!

The thrift and the fern that we planted in there recently are doing well and we have continued to water them. Some of the shrubs were tidied and the tired seed heads on the pasque flowers were removed. The stonecrop is now coming into flower and the astrantia is looking particularly lovely with its white pin cushion flowers.

The small border by the bird box is looking good at the moment with the new honeysuckle growing well. We did some general weeding here and also edged the grass.

In the Sensory and Wildlife Garden we undertook several jobs apart from general weeding. The comfrey has finished flowering so we cut them back before they set seed, and we also removed some large rose suckers. On looking at the Captain Tom Rose we realised that it didn’t look very healthy so we cut back some of the plants that were crowding it, fed it and give it a good watering. We also planted a few new plants including four phlox.

On removing the wilted leaves of the autumn crocus (colchicum autumnale) there were two rather large slugs lurking. Slugs and snails are getting a better press recently - some recent research has shown that garden plants are only eaten by nine of the 44 UK species of slugs. Some eat algae that grows around greenhouses and others eat decomposing material so recycling nutrients back into the soil. They also provide a meal for toads, hedgehogs and many bird species.

Tall yellow plant (loosestrife) in a garden border

Image: Loosestrife, Mike King

The gardens are quite colourful at the moment. The garden loosestrife (lysimachia punctata) is splendid with its spires of yellow flowers. Several varieties of penstemon are in flower, as is the philadelphus, and the lavatera continues to look very good. There are geraniums in flower right across the area.

The roof garden on the bug house in the wetland area is looking good: the sedums have spread out and a number are also in flower.

Scarlett tiger moth settled on a bed of grass

Image: Scarlet tiger moth, Mike King

As well as the slugs we have seen a lot of bees, and spotted three scarlet tiger moths in the gardens. We've also observed a kestrel hovering over the Sensory and Wildlife Garden on a couple of occasions!

Plant sales are continuing and we have recently potted up a large number of foxglove seedlings that we can sell on later in the year, so be sure to come down and visit us at Millennium Country Park on a Wednesday.

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