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Posts Tagged ‘School Projects’

primrose

Although it may seem slow Spring is on its way, in our garden the frogs have been croaking, the buds on the early Clematis are nearly ready to open, the snowdrops are up and the Primroses are in flower.

Primroses have to be one of my favourite flowers; they bring back happy childhood memories of walks up the fields gathering small bunches for my mum – although picking them nowadays isn’t the done thing.

Primula Vulgaris is the British native Primrose that can be found growing in hedgerows or on banks in the wild, but it will also grow happily in gardens.

They prefer a well-drained soil and will thrive in clay, chalk, loam and sand; they will grow quite happily in semi-shade making them perfect to plant under hedges, trees and in a woodland setting as well as in a wildflower meadow.

Primroses can be grown from seed, these are sown in Autumn and remain dormant during the Winter months they will begin to grow when the weather warms up, alternatively you can buy them bare root to plant in Autumn or as pot grown plants which are available now to plant straight away. When primroses have become established they will form thick clumps that can be divided and replanted, ideally during September, they will also self seed naturally. Primroses thrive on leaf mould which can be incorporated when planting or used as a mulch around the plants.

Primroses provide an early source of nectar for Bees, Brimstone Butterflies and Small Tortoiseshell Butterflies they are also the food plant of the caterpillars of the rare Duke of Burgundy Butterfly.

Did you know?

  • The Primrose is the county flower of Devon.
  • Its name derives from the Latin ‘Prima Rosa’ meaning ‘first rose’ of the year although it is not a member of the rose family.
  • Since Victorian times, April 19 has been known as ‘Primrose Day’ it is the anniversary of the death of the former British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli, the Primrose was his favourite flower and on this day every year they are placed at his statue in Westminster Abbey.

Primroses do not take up much space in your garden their pale lemon flowers are a glorious sight and their sweet delicate fragrance is a delight, they are well worth growing and a sign that Spring is on the way.

Gill

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We may take trees for granted as they have just always been there, but the truth is we couldn’t live without them, trees:

Produce oxygen and clean the air

Trees absorb carbon dioxide, removing and storing the carbon whilst releasing the oxygen back into the air, in one year an acre of trees will absorb the same amount of carbon dioxide produced when you drive a car 26,000 miles; an acre of trees will also produce enough oxygen for 18 people. Trees also absorb and filter odour and pollutant gas particles from the air (nitrogen oxide, ammonia) by trapping them on their leaves and bark.

Produce and conserve water and prevent flooding and erosion

There would be no rain without trees, trees absorb water from the soil and release it through evapotranspiration back into the air, trees can be used to prevent flooding as they hold vast amounts of water which would otherwise run down hills and surge into rivers and towns, they reduce soil erosion as they break the force of the wind and rain on the earth and their roots hold the soil together.

Provide food and habit

Trees produce food (fruit, nuts) not just for ourselves but for birds and wildlife too, as well as offering an invaluable habitat to shelter, breed and nest, even the smallest tree can make a big difference.

Make us feel better

Studies have shown that hospital patients with views of trees from their windows get better faster and with less complications, children with ADHD have less symptoms when they are exposed to trees and nature aiding concentration and reducing mental fatigue and a walk in the woods works wonders improving our physical and mental health.

Bring communities together

Tree planting brings communities of all ages, cultures, genders and abilities together creating an enhanced environment in which to live and improving our quality of life.

 

If you are interested in planting trees to help wildlife or to enhance your local area The Woodland Trust are currently offering Schools and Community Groups the chance to apply for free trees for delivery in November 2016.

Communities and Schools can apply for free tree packs twice a year which will be sent out in March and November when the trees are dormant and ready to plant.

There is always a high demand for their tree packs, if you are interested in planting this Autumn apply early to avoid disappointment.

The closing date for Autumn applications is 7th September or upon full subscription.

If you are a School I would strongly advise that you apply asap before the end of this term, it would make a great Autumn project which all the children could get involved in.

For more information and how to apply click here.

Gill

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Johns Red Apple plot

This week is National Gardening Week (11-17 April 2016) it is also the Easter School holidays for many children, why not choose, buy and plant a fruit tree together, they are widely available online or better still visit a garden centre you never know what else you may find, or why not make it a School project; take photographs/draw, monitor and record its progress throughout the year, weigh and compare harvests and create and cook delicious dishes with your fruit.

Fruit Trees

There are many different types of fruit trees that you could choose e.g. Apple, Pear, Plum, Damson, Cherry and many varieties of each type, choosing a tree can be difficult, some of the main things to consider are the height and spread of the tree when it is fully grown, whether it is self-pollinating, if is it not and there are no other fruit trees nearby that will do the job you will have to plant another tree to pollinate it and finally choose a tree that bears fruit that you like to eat, your tree can live up to 60 years.

Fruit trees are either supplied bare root or container grown, bare root plants ideally should be planted October-April but not when the ground is waterlogged or frozen, container grown trees can be planted at any time of the year if the weather is suitable.

Bare Root – Dig a hole wide enough to allow the roots to be spread out evenly and to the same depth at what the tree was previously grown at, it is important that the graft is above ground level. Drive a stake at least 30cm below the bottom of the planting hole, it should be on the side from which the prevailing wind blows. Place your tree in the hole, spread out and sprinkle the roots with Mycorrhizal Funghi (see below), the stem should be about 8cm away from the stake. Half fill the hole with the soil mixed with compost, lightly shake the tree to allow the soil to get between the roots and firm down gently, add the remaining soil/compost up to the original level and firm in again gently with your foot to remove any air pockets, lightly loosen the surface building the soil up slightly around the stem and falling away to create a shallow ring to retain water, water well. Fix a tree tie near the top of the stake, check regularly to make sure that it is not too tight or rubbing the stem, water well in dry conditions until established.

Container grown – Dig a hole 8-10cm wider than the container and deep enough to ensure that the level of the soil ball is approx. 2cm below the surface after planting. Water the tree well before planting, sprinkle Mycorrhizal Funghi (see below) at the bottom of your planting hole, place your tree in the hole fill around the sides with the soil mixed with compost and firm down gently with your foot to remove any air pockets, loosen the surface to create a shallow ring around the tree to retain water, water well. Drive a stake into the ground outside your planting hole on the side from which the prevailing wind blows at an angle of 45 degrees and fix a tree tie to the stake and stem, check regularly to make sure that it is not too tight or rubbing the stem, water well in dry conditions until established.

Mycorrhizal fungi

Mycorrhizal funghi is a natural organism that has been present in the soil for thousands of years it has a symbiotic relationship with plants enabling them to extract nutrients and hold onto water, especially in poor soil conditions, by extending the plants natural root system. One application, when planting, is all that you will need, your plants will benefit from better growth, a healthier and denser root system which will absorb nutrients faster and more efficiently, more flowers and fruit, they will establish faster after planting and will be able to cope with drought better. When planting, Mycorrhizal funghi should be applied directly on the roots or at the bottom of the planting hole so that it comes into contact with the roots.

Once you have planted your tree why not give it a name I have just planted a new fruit tree on my allotment, her name is ‘Victoria Plum’.

Have fun

Gill

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In Britain we love to talk about the weather it must be our favourite topic of conversation, over the past week it will have been discussed a lot, the weather has been dreadful, very wet and very windy in fact you could call it extreme.

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This picture was taken on Sunday 15th November at about 12 noon and shows the point where the Duddel Brook meets the River Ribble, you can just make out the polytunnels and cabins on the flooded allotments at the back.

My allotment has been flooded twice in 5 days, not just by inches but over 4 foot of muddy brown water, it is in a lovely position but the allotments are one of the first areas in the village to flood, it is surrounded on one side by the River Ribble and two of the other sides by the Duddel Brook, it has flooded many times and is something that we prepare for, at this time of year I have very little growing, and try to harvest my crops by October, I leave very little equipment there and remove or secure things that may get washed away, there was very little harm done, unlike a flash flood in Summer which can be devastating and ruin many crops.

I am interested in the weather and regularly look online at the forecast, I was thrilled when the BBC launched ‘BBC Weather Watchers’ so today I have signed up online and posted my first weather report.

Once you have joined you can post your weather reports, have a look at other weather reports near where you are, and read lots of weather information and interesting facts and of course see the weather forecast.

To create a report choose a weather symbol to illustrate your weather, then add the temperature and also download your photograph to illustrate the weather at your location (photographs must be of places and not include any people), there are advanced settings for people with data gathering equipment who can also include the rainfall, air pressure, wind speed and direction and air humidity, you can post up to 10 new reports a day and even add a report for yesterday or last week there is lots of guidance and information on how to measure the weather to help you.

This is a great activity that you can do at home or at School, you have to be 16 or over to join, set up and oversee the account, but parents and teachers are welcome to involve children in their care.

I think it is very interesting, there is nothing more changeable and unpredictable as the weather, why not have a look and sign up?

Enjoy the weather

Gill

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Small Tortoiseshell

They say that counting sheep is relaxing and helps you to go to sleep, why not do something which is equally as relaxing that is also fun, educational and very important – why not count butterflies?

This year ‘The Big Butterfly Count’ runs from 17th July – 9th August and the organisers Butterfly Conservation are asking as many people as possible to get involved and count butterflies and moths for 15 minutes during bright (preferably sunny) weather, good places to count are in gardens, meadows, parks and woods.

If you are counting from a fixed position in your garden, count the maximum number of each species that you can see at a single time. For example, if you see three Red Admirals together on a buddleia bush then record it as 3, but if you only see one at a time then record it as 1 (even if you saw one on several occasions) – this is so that you don’t count the same butterfly more than once . If you are doing your count on a walk, then simply total up the number of each butterfly species that you see during the 15 minutes.

To make things easier you can download a handy identification chart from their website to help you work out which butterflies you have seen.

Elephant Hawk Moth

Elephant Hawk Moth

The ‘Big Butterfly Count’ is a nationwide survey aimed at assessing the health of our environment. It was launched in 2010 and has rapidly become the world’s biggest survey of butterflies. Over 44,000 people took part in 2014, counting almost 560,000 individual butterflies and day-flying moths across the UK.

Butterflies react very quickly to change in their environment which makes them excellent biodiversity indicators. Butterfly declines are an early warning for other wildlife losses. The count also assists in identifying trends in species, this will help to plan how to protect butterflies from extinction, as well as understand the effect of climate change on wildlife.

You can submit separate records for different dates at the same place, and for different places. Your count is useful even if you do not see any butterflies or moths.

Once you have done your count submit your records online before the end of August.

There is a great results map showing sightings that have already been submitted, you can see which butterflies and moths other people have spotted near you and across the UK, it is fascinating.

Have a look on their website there is lots of information and wonderful pictures of butterflies and moths which you may spot during your count as well as great ideas to get more people involved such as a Barbecue for Butterflies, Picnic in the Park, Butterfly play date, Butterfly Tea Party, it is a great activity for groups such as the Brownies/Cubs etc. Summer Schools, Child Minders, the W.I., Walking Clubs, Gardening Clubs etc.

So get out there on the next sunny day and look for Butterflies and Moths.

Red Admiral Butterfly

If you want to attract butterflies into your garden you will need to provide nectar rich flowers throughout the butterfly season, as well as food plants for the butterfly caterpillars to eat, click here for advice on which nectar rich plants to grow in Spring, Summer and Autumn and tips on gardening for butterflies.
Love your environment
Gill

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Oak Tree

Trees play an important part in our lives by enhancing our environment and creating wonderful wooded places to spend quality time with our families.

Trees are havens for wildlife too, providing homes and food for caterpillars (leaves), insects (flowers, leaves), beetles and larvae (trunk, rotting wood) these in turn are food for animals and birds especially newly fledged youngsters or hungry chicks still in the nest, in Autumn and Winter their fruits/berries and seeds provide a welcome meal for birds and animals, trees really are a very important part of the wild food chain.

Family pic 5

If you are interested in planting trees to help wildlife, for the environment or to enhance your local area The Woodland Trust are currently offering Schools and Community Groups the chance to apply for free trees for delivery in November 2015.

The tree packs are available in three sizes:

  • Small – containing 30 saplings.
  • Medium – containing 105 saplings.
  • Large – containing 420 sapling.

The packs come in different mixes of tree species so you can choose the best one for your project.

  • Small – Short Hedge, Small Copse
  • Medium – Wild Harvest, Wildlife, Year Round Colour, Working Wood, Wetland, Wild Wood
  • Large – Wild Harvest, Wildlife, Year Round Colour, Working Wood, Wetland, Wild Wood

Communities and Schools can apply for free tree packs twice a year which will be sent out in March and November when the trees are dormant and ready to plant.

There is always a high demand for their tree packs, currently all medium (105 sapling) packs for schools this Autumn have been claimed, limited quantities of the small (30 sapling) and large (420 sapling) packs remain, if you are interested in planting this Autumn apply early to avoid disappointment.

The closing date for Autumn applications is 3rd September or upon full subscription.

If you are a School I would strongly advise that you apply asap before the end of this term, it would make a great Autumn project which all the children could get involved in.

For more information and how to apply click here.

Gill

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This week it has been glorious with long, dry days of warm sunshine, perfect weather for gardening and getting outdoors and also for Butterflies too, on my allotment I saw quite a few including Small Tortoiseshells, Peacocks, Small Whites and my first Orange Tip, they are all stunning to look at, when they eventually settle to feed on the spring flowers.

In Britain there are 59 species of butterfly that breed here plus up to 30 other species that come here as occasional or regular migrants from elsewhere in Europe, but all is not well for these beautiful fragile creatures, according to a report published in 2011 by Butterfly Conservation three-quarters of UK butterflies showed a 10-year decrease in either their distribution or population levels with numbers of ‘garden’ butterflies dropping by 24%.

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Loss of habitat including food plants for caterpillars and butterflies can have a devastating effect, in Spring many species emerge from hibernation and are hungry for nectar and pollen, by growing Spring flowering plants in the garden we can really give them a boost early on in the year, favourite Butterfly plants include Aubretia, Arabis, Forget-me-nots, Polyanthus, Primroses, Sweet Violet, Wallflowers and of course Spring bulbs. Wildflower seeds can be sown now to provide food in the Summer/Autumn they will also benefit Bees and other pollinating insects, there are many different ‘mixes’ available, they need very little looking after but look stunning.

 Short Mix

If you are really keen to do more to help Butterflies and Moths why not consider joining Butterfly Conservation, if you join before 31st May 2015 you can get your first year’s membership for half price, members receive a Gardening for Butterflies and Moths Booklet, colourful identification charts, Butterfly magazines, e-newsletters and more, have a look at their website for full details.

If you have seen an early sighting of a Butterfly you can register it on the Butterfly Conservation website, many of the early Butterflies have already been spotted but there are many more species yet to find, have a look at the list for the species that still haven’t been seen yet this year and keep your eyes peeled.

Which reminds me I must report my Orange Tip Butterfly sighting on the BIG Spring Watch website, they are also asking you to register your first sightings of a Swallow (which are returning from Africa), an Oak Leaf and a Seven Spot Ladybird all the sightings will be studied and used to help save and conserve our wildlife and provide a picture of how it’s doing.

So get out this weekend and get spotting!

Gill

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