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.

September has been quite a hot month and the ground is very hard, but we did manage to plant the Captain Tom rose in a prominent position in the Sensory and Wildlife Garden. It is quite small at the moment but in time will grow to about three feet in height and spread!

The Smudge Garden had become rather weedy by the beginning of the month so it was a case of getting on our hands and knees and fine weeding, particularly on the brick scree area. We found several seedlings of the Mexican feather grass so we saved those and potted them up ready to sell. Plant sales have been good proving popular with our visitors and all of the plants are potted in peat free compost.

We have done some general tidying up in the gardens and spent some time clearing the paths. We also trimmed a couple of the larger shrubs which had become rather out of shape. Other shrubs are beginning to produce berries and the dogwood’s bright red berries are looking particularly attractive. These will provide a winter source of food for the birds, particularly the thrushes. The roses are also splendid at the moment with a good crop of red hips. The autumn crocus are adding a splash of colour at the moment and the michaelmas daisies are just coming into flower.

The mini bug house in the Sensory and Wildlife Garden has been used by the bees, but we noticed that the holes that had been sealed by the bees had been opened - we suspect that this is was down to a woodpecker. These birds are known to attack mason bees and leaf cutter bees nests using their tongue to extract the bee eggs. The two large bug houses are still being used by a number of insects and we suspect that hedgehogs are to be found underneath them using the entrances that we built into the structures. The log piles are also very important providing a habitat for many beetles and insects and some hedgehogs.

Another big job that we undertook was to turn the compost in the bins. Whilst doing this we found a toad which proved to be rather incontinent when picked up, leaving Diane with a rather wet glove! We also found the remains of a mouse nest which seemed to have wool from the carpet that we cover the bins with incorporated in its structure.

We were not sure what mammals we have in the garden so the mammal trapping group decided to carry out a survey. This involved setting traps containing food in the evening and then checking them early the next day. The animals were then identified, weighed, measured and released. The results were then sent to the regional mammal recorder. Wood mice, common shrews and bank voles were recorded as well as a field vole weighing 40g which (we suspect) was pregnant.

We continue to have frequent conversations with visitors to the Forest Centre about the work that we do, and were pleasantly surprised when one visitor gave us a bag of Crunchie Bars!

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