Caversham's answer to Chelsea
With no Chelsea Flower Show this year, some residents in Hemdean Road in Caversham had their own little 'Chelsea'. They put on quite a colourful display! Have a look at the pictures below.
Meanwhile, help nature out of lockdown here www.butterfly–conservation.org; The Wildlife Trusts want you to do one wild thing a day throughout the whole month: for your health, wellbeing and for the planet. That’s 30 simple, fun and exciting Random Acts of Wildness! To get involved visit here Tell them who is taking part - you, you, your family, your care home, your business, school or group - and you will get a free pack of appropriate resources to download, full of inspirational activities.
Gardens and parklands are re-opening, but not houses, shops or cafes. Please note that you do have to book your visit through the National Trust website.
Planting for pollinators
By Tricia Marcouse of Reading Climate Action Network
Everyone can help pollinators in their gardens.
You may fancy a wildlife garden full of native species, and this can be as beautifully manicured or tangled as you wish, but it isn’t necessary to grow native species to help pollinating insects.
Every pollinator needs two or three essentials: something to eat throughout the active period, somewhere to nest or lay eggs and perhaps something for an intermediate stage to eat or develop.
The perfect wildlife garden provides all three for a range of pollinators, but not everyone needs to do this, and this short article concentrates on suggestions for changing plants in existing borders and tubs, not redesigning the whole thing. The general rule is to go for single flowers rather than doubles and to try to provide nectar and pollen in the garden from early spring to the autumn.
The most important times of the year are early spring and the autumn as not every garden has this provision. Winter honeysuckle, wintersweet, snowdrops and early to mid season crocus in full sun give over-wintering queen bees the oomph to start the new nest. After this, the options are endless, but don’t despise the common aubretia, forget-me-nots and wallflowers.
Shady or semi-shade spots are amazing for spring nectar and pollen with snowdrop, primroses, violets, lungwort, foxgloves, honesty, sweet rocket , geranium phaeum, hellebores and the joy of watching bumblebees climb from one hanging bell of solomon’s seal to the next until their pollen baskets are so heavy that they fall out!
Go vertical with honeysuckle, ceanothus and cotoneaster or single flowered roses and make a space for ivy of any colour and leaf size you fancy provided you let some of it flower. This is a very important autumn food for pollinators and one of the food plants of the holly blue butterfly. Leave the seed heads on over winter and spring and cut the ivy back in May after you have seen the holly blue butterflies on the wing (they fly quite high up) to get more flowers in the autumn.
For hanging baskets and containers, try adding verbenas, single marigolds, tagetes and single petunias to the mixture or go for the mini-petunias, Calibrachoa.
In the herb garden, flowering rosemary, sage, thyme and hyssop bring in the pollinators, but so will chives and mint if you let some of it flower, and flowering marjoram is possibly the best plant for pollinators in any garden.
There are masses of potential plants for the open mixed border in every colour, height and habit. Some essentials would be alliums (small and tall), echinops, a variety of hardy geraniums, verbena bonariensis , salvias, sedums and michaelmas daisy, but the RHS has done a lot of research on plants for pollinators and their plant lists are available for download on https://www.rhs.org.uk/science/conservation-biodiversity/wildlife/plants-for-pollinators.
And don't forget lavender - it may fill your space with a heady aroma but pollinators love it as much as we do.
Different species prefer to cruise around at different heights above the ground so choose both short and tall specimens and try to plant so that there is a route through the border from one to another.
Finally, all life needs water. A garden pond, however small, increases wildlife, but a bird bath with a stone in it serves bees and butterflies as well as the birds and, if on the ground, hedgehogs too.
All about Reading CAN
The Reading Climate Action Network is communities and businesses coming together in Reading to tackle climate change.
It recognises that while policymakers can mandate some types of action, responding to the challenge of climate change also requires individual adjustments by citizens and organisations and that working together we can achieve much more than any of us can alone. .
The Climate Action Network is managed by the Reading Climate Change Partnership which consists of a voluntary executive board drawn from a variety of sectors including business, statutory and community. Its purpose is to develop and implement a climate change strategy and associated action plan which will guides the council, business and the community towards a zero carbon future and help it prepare for the impacts of a changing climate.
The recent declaration by Reading Borough Council of a Climate Emergency adds a new sense of urgency to the task, and coincides with the planned strategic review which will shape the strategy and action plan for the next two 5-year periods from 2020-2025 and 2025-2030, with the goal of a Zero Carbon Reading by 2030.
You can view the current iteration of the strategy and action plan here: www.readingcan.org.uk.
'The joy of watching bumblebees climb from one hanging bell of solomon’s seal to the next until their pollen baskets are so heavy that they fall out!'
'Go vertical with honeysuckle, ceanothus and cotoneaster or single flowered roses'
From top, solomon's seal, geranium phaeum and variegated ivy. Pictures by Tricia and Rob Stallard of Reading and District Natural History Society.
Growing a community food garden
See how a disused plot in Reading was transformed into an edible growing space for the whole community - watch the video, below