Garden blogs

Growing the Future Newsletter – July 31


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.

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.

Seed Bombs
August: 2nd, 3rd

Seed bombs are great fun for adults and children. We rely on wild pollinators and honey bees to pollinate the crops that keep us healthy, but around the world pollinator populations are declining.

Whether it’s a plant pot, flowerbed, wild patch in your lawn or an entire meadow, sowing wildflowers provides vital resources to support a wide range of pollinating insects.

Bee Hotels
August: 5th, 6th, 10th, 12th, 13th, 16th, 19th, 20th, 27th, 30th, 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.


NEW – Keyhole Gardening for Beginners

Wednesday August 14th

Keyhole gardens are small, sustainable units used mainly for growing vegetables, designed to retain moisture and nutrients, and originally developed in sub-Saharan Africa. Popularised by aid workers in Africa, Keyhole Gardens are now being used all over the world.

This course will begin in our classroom, learning the key principles of this low-cost system and how community-led projects are changing lives in Cameroon.

Attendees will then be given the opportunity to get their hands dirty and learn how to select the most appropriate site and construction materials, before gaining an insight into the construction process.

Find out more on of the course tutors, Natalie Danford’s, experience of introducing keyhole gardens in Cameroon in this blog post written by her.

Course at the National Botanic Garden.  Booking is essential.  10am-2pm.  £25 (£22.50 Concessions & Garden Members).  For more information, including how to book, please call 01558 667150 or visit the Garden’s Eventbrite page.


Get to Know Your Trees

Thursday August 15th

With a passion for trees, our Science Officer, Kevin McGinn, spent two years checking the identity of trees growing in the Arboretum at Kew Gardens.

Aimed at beginners, this course will introduce the main botanical features used to identify broad-leaved trees often seen in the UK.

Learn how to use botanical keys in an identification workshop and see a wide range of different native and introduced tree species growing at the National Botanic Garden of Wales.

Course at the National Botanic Garden.  Booking is essential.  10.30am-3pm.  £35 (£32 Concessions & Garden Members).  For more information, including how to book, please call 01558 667150 or visit the Garden’s Eventbrite page.


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 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.


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.