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.

Banner image: Daffodils in the Sensory and Wildlife Garden, Mike King

Winter in the gardens

We’ve been busy over the winter as usual. It’s been a time to tidy up and think about the coming year.

Each week we get together and have worked in the gardens on all but two occasions (because of torrential rain).

The work carried out is similar each year, it involves cutting back the Michaelmas daisies, and pruning the shrub roses and the fruit trees. The Michaelmas daisies are rather invasive so a lot have been removed and are in the compost bins. However, the red ones that we identified by tying ribbons around the stumps have now been replanted as a distinct group separate from the pink ones.

A lot of the leaves have been removed from the flower beds and piled up together to form leaf mould. This will take at least a year but will be useful to spread on the gardens in the future. It doesn’t have any nutritional value but is great for improving soil structure.

Image: Hellebores in the side garden, Mike King

One of the Choisya shrubs was diseased so we had to remove it, and the Lavatera seems to have suffered in the hot summer. This required some pruning and we had to completely remove some of the main branches. We managed to dig out the large stump that remained after cutting out one of the diseased Box shrubs. It was also noted that the Hebes in the Smudge garden had suffered so this also required a major cut back. These Hebes are really old plants so probably have reached the end of their life. Where possible a lot of the prunings have been shredded and added to the compost rather than being burnt, but any diseased material has been taken to the burn site.

However, it’s not all gloom and doom. The wet weather provided an ideal opportunity to mulch the side border using our compost from the bins. A number of cyclamen have been planted here to add to the ones that are thriving there. This area is looking a lot better since we cut back the over hanging trees earlier in the year and at the time of writing it looks lovely with a fine display of Primroses, Hellebores and Cyclamen.

Image: Primroses, Mike King

In the Smudge garden there were a lot of Mexican Feather Grass seedlings in the scree area so we decided to replant some together in the central area. When they are fully grown they will be about two to three foot high and should form a nice feature. We were given a large number of snowdrops recently and have planted them in groups.

In the arbour the miniature daffodils (Tete a Tete) that we planted earlier in the year are in full flower and the hyacinths are about to. There are also a number of daffodils in flower in the raised beds and the daphne blossom is out with its subtle fragrance.

We haven’t seen a lot of fauna over the winter but we suspect that hedgehogs are hibernating under the two bug houses. We did come across a small newt in the smudge garden recently which we moved to the Bog Garden and when the snow was laying on the garden we came across some deer tracks.  We are also starting to see a few bees.

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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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