Volunteers diary 2011

Thursday 27th October
The Friends first weekly volunteer session resulted in the planting of 1000 bluebells and whitebells behind the borders in Shakespeare Walk. It should lead to a spectacular show of colour in the Spring in years to come as the bulbs mature and naturalise. And before anyone asks the question, yes, they were English bluebells (Hyacinthoides non-scripta) and not the Spanish variety (H. hispanica) which is destroying our native species.



Thursday 3th November.
This week volunteers began work on the long raised border that runs along the Lauderdale lawn. It’s to be tuned into a sensory garden for many years a feature of this area until it was removed as part of the Heritage Lottery Fund refurbishment of the in the early 2000s.

It was too late for herbaceous planting, so the border was instead prepared for planting out next Spring, turning over the soil before the frosts set in and planting with green manure – a combination of Hungarian winter grass and winter beans. When dug in, these plants will add extra nutrients to the soil and give new plants a boost in the Spring.

All the existing plants were lifted and potted up to be reused in the border itself or to be used elsewhere in the park. Nothing is left to waste!

Volunteers dig over the long border at Lauderdale House.

Thursday10th November
On this wonderful crisp November day, the volunteers managed to tackle a good third of the sensory border running along the Lauderdale lawn, sowing winter manure as they turned over the soil.

Garden designer Sarah Ball developed a planting plan for the border. Once approved by the head gardener and Camden’s Parks and Open Spaces team, this will be put on the website for all to enjoy. Given the high profile position of the border, the aim of the planting plan is to ensure there is something interesting to look at all year, not just the summer months.


Winter manure beginning to grow.

Thursday 17th November
This week the FOWP volunteers, by this time growing healthily in numbers, finished preparing the long border by the Lauderdale lawn, digging it over and planting winter green manure, saving existing plants to be used again.

Sarah Ball completed the first draft of the planting plan with suggest herbaceous and structural planting. She also created a planting list with a grid to highlight what sense each plant catered to. The plants, provided by Camden, will be planted in the Spring.



Thursday 24th November

The wonderful sunny weather continued and this week volunteers started tackling the rose garden behind the concert area. The gardeners had fixed the rose swags for us and first off was to weed and tie in the climbing roses planted by Friends of Water Park the previous year. In spite of the dry spell at a key growing time in April/May, all the roses survived really well (good preparation with plenty of mulch, compost and root hormone at the time of planting protected these baby roses from the drought).

We didn’t put compost down at this stage. Composting roses in the autumn isn’t a good idea as it encourages buds that get nipped by the winter frosts. Composting roses is best left to the spring.

The climbing roses, even though many of them weren’t very tall, need to be tied in to prevent root-rock -- damage caused by strong autumn winds.

The bush roses were heavily pruned under the guidance of Camden horticultural officer Mark Walter. This was a task complicated this year by the warm weather confusing the roses into thinking it was spring. To stop the bushes producing new growth each one was left with a hip still on to send a message to the bush to stop flowering. If this is not done, the roses will not produce a good display of roses in the following summer.

A heavy coating of mulch was put on the ground to protect the rose roots from the frost. A leaf mulch would be used in most of the park, but in the case of these roses, many already suffering from the fungus black spot, it was considered advisable to use instead sterile mulch.


Raking off leaves around rose bushes.

Thursday 1st December
The previous week was supposed to be our last volunteer session of the year, but so glorious was the weather and because we hadn’t quite finished the swag rose garden, we agreed to meet for just one more week.

A small team of us finished off what little pruning was left, and heavily cut back the lavender in the hopes that it wiould produce much more new growth next year (this is very much hit and miss as lavender doesn’t like being cut back heavily). Fountain’s gardening staff had been enormously helpful, picking up the bags of non-compostable rose debris to save us having to lug it to the yard, so we’d like to say a big thank you for all the support we’ve had from them – without whom the park would be a less enjoyable place. Also, all the volunteers would like to send huge thanks to the Veolia staff led by Toby who have been so supportive and often used their lunch break to come and take the bags of non-compostable green stuff from us.

Meanwhile Sarah Ball had finished her first draft of the planting plan. This will now go to the head gardener, Mark Walters, for comment before it goes to Camden.

Taking a well earned rest.

This is it for the year. We start again as soon as the soil starts warming up, probably the end of March. SO WATCH THIS SPACE!

Everybody’s welcome and you don’t need gardening knowledge or experience to join in. If you want any further information, call Patricia on 07710 312105 or contact us via the website.