Garden blogs

Growing the Future Newsletter – August 21

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Welcome to Growing the Future‘s latest newsletter, if you’d like to receive it directly to your inbox, sign-up here.

See the full newsletter here.

Pollinator Festival

Saturday August 24th – Monday August 26th

There’s another wild weekend of bank holiday fun in store at the National Botanic Garden of Wales, with a special focus on bees, butterflies and other crucial pollinating insects.

Pollinating insects have declined dramatically across the Welsh countryside over the past 30 years, if not longer. As a world-leader in pollinator research and a member of the Pollinator Action Plan, the Garden is working to reverse this worrying trend.

Find out more about pollinator conservation in Wales and how your own garden can give pollinators a helping hand through an array of activities, stands, talks and guided walks. Join a ‘BioBlitz’ organised by the Garden’s Science Team and learn more on the PhD research being undertaken here.

Pollinator Festival Programme:

* Meet at Canolfan Tyfu
# Meet at the Gatehouse
~ Meet at the Performance Stage
+ Plant Sales
@ Millennium Square

Saturday August 24th

~ 11:00: Choosing a Pollinator Friendly Wildflower Seed Mix with Lucy Witter
* 11:00-15:00:  BioBlitz with the Science Team
* 11:00-15:00:  Activities for All
# 13:00: Guided Walk: Bees and Hoverflies at the Garden with Abigail Lowe
# 14:00: Guided Walk – Butterflies and day-flying moths with Lydia Cocks

Throughout the day in the Great Glasshouse:
Chat to our beekeeping volunteers
Skep-making demonstrations with Tina Cunningham
See the latest work of Stitching Botanical
Local businesses selling products
Charity stands
Sunday August 25th

+ 10:30-12:00: Learn about Peat-free compost with Kevin McGinn
~ 11:00: Choosing a Pollinator Friendly Wildflower Seed Mix with Lucy Witter
* 11:00-15:00:  BioBlitz  with the Science Team
* 11:00-15:00:  Activities for All
# 13:00: Guided Walk: Bees and Hoverflies at the Garden with Abigail Lowe
+ 13:30-15:00: Learn about Peat-free compost with Kevin McGinn
# 14:00: Guided Walk – Butterflies and day-flying moths with Lydia Cocks

Throughout the day in the Great Glasshouse:
Chat to our beekeeping volunteers
Skep-making demonstrations with Tina Cunningham
See the latest work of Stitching Botanical
Local businesses selling products
Charity stands
Monday August 26th

+ 10:30-12:00: Learn about Peat-free compost with Kevin McGinn
~ 11:00: Choosing a Pollinator Friendly Wildflower Seed Mix with Lucy Witter
* 11:00-15:00:  BioBlitz with the Science Team
* 11:00-15:00:  Activities for All
@ 12:00: Oak BioBlitz with Liam Olds
@ 13:00: Oak BioBlitz with Liam Olds
+ 13:30-15:00: Learn about Peat-free compost with Kevin McGinn
#14:00: Guided Walk – Butterflies and day-flying moths with Lydia Cocks
@14:00: Oak BioBlitz with Liam Olds

Throughout the day in the Great Glasshouse:
Chat to our beekeeping volunteers
Skep-making demonstrations with Tina Cunningham
See the latest work of Stitching Botanical
Local businesses selling products
Charity stands

All guided walks to be up to 45 minutes.

 

FREE* Short Courses

Are you looking for something to do over the school summer holidays?

As well as a visit to the beautiful National Botanic Garden of Wales, join the sowing and growing fun with a FREE* family short course provided by the Growing the Future project.

Bee Hotels
Tuesday August 27th, Friday August 30th & Saturday August 31st

Did you know that the majority of bees are queen-less, don’t produce honey and don’t live in colonies or hives?

To help support populations of solitary bees in your garden you can create your own bee hotel where you can watch the life cycle of these fascinating creatures.  These bees are called solitary bees, and we have over 250 different species in the UK, some of which you may have heard of; leafcutter bees, mining bees and mason bees to name a few. These bees are fantastic pollinators, however they are much less known than honeybees and bumblebees.

Learn how to make your own bee hotel using recycled materials and where’s best to locate it in your garden or balcony.  Learn more on our fab Project Pollinate competition being run in partnership with the Eco Attractions Group.

Courses run at 11am-1pm and 2pm-4pm in the Canolfan Tyfu (Growing Centre) classrooms. To book, please visit the Garden’s Eventbrite page.

Courses at the National Botanic Garden.  *Please note that short courses do not include Garden entry.  Please see here for more information on admission prices.

 

Project Pollinate

Can you build the best Pollinator Palace this summer?

Imagine a world without chocolate or your favourite fruit.  It’s a scary thought and one that could become real if we don’t help protect nature’s pollinators.

Bees and wasps, butterflies and moths, beetles and hoverflies and even birds and bats all help to pollinate plants, producing many of our tasty foods.  Not only do they help provide us with food they also help our natural environment flourish.

The National Botanic Garden of Wales and the Growing the Future project, along with other members of the Eco Attractions Group, are running an exciting competition this summer at visitor centres across the UK, asking you to make a Pollinator Palace and help protect nature’s pollinators.  If you fancy the challenge, and are 16 and under, here’s what you need to do:

  1. Sketch out your Pollinator Palace, also known as a bug house or bee hotel.  You can search the internet, go to www.ecoattractions.com or visit your local library for help and ideas.  There’s a helpful blog on our website here.
  2. Collect things to make your Palace, best if they are recycled – you can use empty plastic bottles or tins.  If needed, ask a grown up for help to build it and don’t forget to decorate your Palace brightly to attract pollinators!
  3. Find somewhere in your garden, or a friends, to put your Pollinator Palace.  Take a photo and ask your parent/guardian (as you need to be 13 and over to have an account) to post it on Instagram with the hashtag #projectpollinate2019 and tagging @ecoattractions.  Do this before September 3rd 2019 and you will be automatically entered into the competition.
  4. Our pollination scientists will be selecting 15 top Palaces before school starts for a special prize, such as robotic solar kits, keeper experiences, goody bags and more.  You’ll be told, via Instagram, if you are a winner.

Good luck!

By entering you agree to the terms and conditions in the competition terms and conditions found on the Eco Attractions website.

 

Plant Focus by Ben: Pennisetum villosum ‘Cream Falls’

These grasses (commonly known as feather top grasses) are certainly eye catching, despite their small stature (around 50 cm). Working their wanders anywhere from a cut flower garden to an ornamental display, they are a fantastic way to add some variety to the front of borders.

Throughout the spring and early summer, their thin, gracefully arching leaves will provide a brilliant contrast to the other flowers in the boarder, but they really come into their own when those delicate flowing heads come out in July, in perfect time to add some late summer and autumn interest to a bed. You may also see these plants popping up in a few cut flower displays! In the garden they are found in multiple areas, but the easiest place to find them in planted on mass in the Inner Walled Garden.

Growing best on moist yet well drained soils with a position in full sun, these easy to grow grasses will give you displays consistently. Cut back the foliage before late spring and add a dry mulch in the autumn to protect from winter frosts. Propagation is easily done from division but you can also get seed to be sown in late winter or early spring (February-March).

 

Natural Dyeing

Saturday August 31st

An introduction to the skills of dyeing fibre and fabric with plant dyes.

The workshop will:
– use dyes from plants to make a range of colours
– explain the use of mordants to fix dyes to fibres
– demonstrate different dye methods

Start the day with a basic introduction to natural dyeing, including health and safety issues together with environmental concerns associated with dyeing.

Work in pairs or small groups to try out a range of dyes.

Dyes will include onion skins, weld, walnut leaves, logwood, red sanders, and fustic.

At the end of the day, take home a range of dyed samples and notes on the dyeing processes, and the enthusiasm and knowledge to continue experimenting with natural dyeing at home!

You will need to bring your own rubber gloves, apron, notebook and pen, and plastic bags to take samples home.

Course at Treborth Botanic Garden.  Booking is essential.  10am-3pm.  £32.50 (£29.50 Concessions & National Botanic Garden Members).  For more information, including how to book, please call 01558 667150 or visit the Garden’s Eventbrite page.