Warmest wishes to our community for 2024, we look forward to welcoming you to the gardens for everything we have planned this year. In this blog post our new Community Programme Manager, Mo Odling(she/they), introduces themselves and their role in the gardens. Hello Hidden Gardens friends! As a newly settled resident in Polloksheilds, joining The […]
Warmest wishes to our community for 2024, we look forward to welcoming you to the gardens for everything we have planned this year. In this blog post our new Community Programme Manager, Mo Odling(she/they), introduces themselves and their role in the gardens.
Hello Hidden Gardens friends! As a newly settled resident in Polloksheilds, joining The Hidden Gardens team has given me the great privilege of living and working in the same community. I am exploring the gardens as a newcomer, having recently returned to Scotland from the Republic of Ireland, where I lived in Cork city for the past couple of years. I’m enjoying taking time to get to know the pathways, plants and friendly faces which populate the gardens. It feels significant to be here, at the beginning of my first year as Community Programme Manager in 2024.
My background is in community engagement and visual art. I have a social practice; I make artist books and publications, primarily in collaboration with others. In my role here in The Hidden Gardens I will be focusing on creating opportunities for local people to come into the space and be inspired by the collaboration humans and nature. Finding interesting and fun ways to explore all The Hidden Gardens stand for. It is great to be working to continue the legacy of the community programme, whilst adding my own perspective to the projects and events which we host.
I often find myself feeling overwhelmed by the current state of the world, not least of which the cycle of crises across the globe, the climate emergency and the myriad of other pressures and inequalities. It can feel as though any individual action is insignificant by comparison. However, when I walk around The Hidden Gardens and take a visit to my favourite tree (pictured above, the beautiful Bhutan Pine!) it reminds me that there are important actions we can take. Urban green spaces play a pivotal role in fostering and preserving our natural diversity, offering a haven for a multitude of plant and animal species. By nurturing pockets of natural habitat in the city spaces, we not only sustain the non-human world but also our wellbeing and quality of life. The Hidden Gardens stands as a testament to the harmonious coexistence of nature and the city. It reminds us that our actions and connections, matter.
It has been a warm welcome, and I have been struck by the variety and prevalence of community action in the southside of Glasgow. I’m really proud to be part of a strong and diverse community working in so many ways toward positive change for all. I look forward to meeting everyone in The Hidden Gardens community over the coming months, where we can discuss, experiment, take notice and celebrate together.
Gardens have an important role to play in supporting biodiversity, particularly in urban areas. Therefore, it is vital that we know more about local wildlife, and keep track of how individual species and their habitats are faring. Wildlife records help conservationists decide how land should be managed and see how species are being affected by […]
Gardens have an important role to play in supporting biodiversity, particularly in urban areas. Therefore, it is vital that we know more about local wildlife, and keep track of how individual species and their habitats are faring. Wildlife records help conservationists decide how land should be managed and see how species are being affected by human activities.
Records can help to establish the distribution and size of populations, and regular recording can help us to detect changes over time. They help to identify the location of rare and locally important species, and can be used to help protect them and their habitats from damage.
It is also important to record even common, regularly seen species. These are often under-recorded, and so changes in their abundance and distribution may not be noticeable until it’s too late. They can also be used as a baseline from which to monitor changes in other species and habitats. For example, declines in common birds or insects can indicate habitat loss, pollution, or climate change.
Science is not the only beneficiary of nature-based ‘citizen science’ projects – research has shown that taking part in wildlife surveys also boosts the wellbeing of participants and their connection to nature. So volunteers taking part in wildlife recording activities are not only providing data vital to assessing environmental change, they also experience benefits of getting up close and personal with nature.
Record your wildlife sightings by uploading them to a database using an app or website such as iRecord or iNaturalist. If you upload a photo of a plant or animal, iNaturalist helps you identify plants and animals with visually similar suggestions, and your records will be verified by dedicated experts.
How do we gather our data?
Glasgow Museums Biological Record Centre has gathered and updated the Wildlife Records for The Hidden Gardens. Records come from specifically targeted groups such as regular moth traps and monthly bird surveys, volunteers and visitors taking part in citizen science surveys such as Big Garden Bird Watch, Pollinator Monitoring Scheme and Big Butterfly Count, and input from individual recorders.
Rosemary beetle – Chrysolina americanaLichen
The Hidden Gardens Species List – Updated November 2023
There are so many more species out there to record, for example we haven’t got a record for Grey Squirrel and they most definately are around! Please join in our quest to find out more about the biodiversity within The Hidden Gardens, and many thanks to all those who have done so already.
There are a number of designations used by conservationists to highlight species of particular interest for conservation, or species under threat.
The Scottish Biodiversity List is an inventory of animals, plants and habitats produced by NatureScot that are considered by Scottish Ministers to be of importance for biodiversity conservation in Scotland.
By identifying the species and habitats that are of the highest priority for biodiversity conservation, the Scottish Biodiversity List helps public bodies apply their biodiversity duty.
The Biodiversity duty is not only about protecting biodiversity through managing specific sites, habitats and species. It also aims to increase the level of understanding and connection between people and the living environment.
Birds of Conservation Concern 5 (2021) has been compiled by a coalition of the UK’s leading bird conservation and monitoring organisations. This is the fifth review of the status of all regularly occurring birds in the UK. The birds that breed or overwinter here have been assessed against a set of objective criteria and placed on the Green, Amber or Red lists to indicate and increasing level of concern.
Invasive Non-Native Species are plants and animalsthat have been introduced to Britain from all over the world by people. These species have either become established and are causing problems, or are likely to cause a significant negative impact if they become more widespread.
Despite the odd cold night and hint of frost, the temperatures have not yet dipped enough to halt the flowering cosmos, calendula and evening primrose, adding to the autumnal colours from the crimson stems of dogwood and the golden witch hazel leaves. The potager is full of bright stems and glossy leaves of chard, winter […]
Despite the odd cold night and hint of frost, the temperatures have not yet dipped enough to halt the flowering cosmos, calendula and evening primrose, adding to the autumnal colours from the crimson stems of dogwood and the golden witch hazel leaves. The potager is full of bright stems and glossy leaves of chard, winter salad leaves and herbs as well as beetroot, leeks and turnip. These bursts of brightness help to cheer us as the failing light and the shorter days set in.
This is the time we plan for the winter months, taking in tender pelargoniums and our olive tree to the shelter of an unheated greenhouse. Pots of sedums do not mind the cold but hate the wet weather, so they also come inside for the winter.
We are working away at emptying last year’s leaf mould to use as a mulch around the borders and under trees and shrubs. Before we begin to mulch we must weed and cut back perennials, although we leave some foliage and seed heads for interesting textures, shapes and forms as well as providing food and shelter for wildlife.
Although we are not aiming to ‘rewild’ The Hidden Gardens – a term used to describe reintroducing natural, self-sustaining ecological processes, leaving the garden to go its own way – we do embrace environmentally friendly and sustainable gardening practices. Removing all maintenance would soon result in an overgrown space that it would be difficult to relax in and enjoy. Instead, we focus on increasing biodiversity by including plants, both native and cultivated, for pollinators and other animals. We embrace wildness where it can flourish in areas of the garden and allow weeds such as dandelion and daisies, clover and self-heal to make our grass interesting for wildlife and us. However, at this time of year we do give the whole lawn a final cut to ensure this mix of plants flourish amongst the grasses for next year’s picnics on the lawn. Edging around the paths keeps them clear and adds definition to the design of this formal part of the garden.
While it is important to clear the paths and walkways of leaves to prevent them from becoming slippery, we do allow drifts and piles of leaves to build up under hedges and trees to provide shelter for overwintering animals. Branches and twigs are added to the dead hedge to provide more habitat.
Garden Lightsand Wildlife
As days shorten it is tempting to brighten things up with outdoor lighting, but it is important to consider night- time visitors when lighting up your garden. For example, two thirds of common moths have been in decline in recent years and although habitat loss and climate change are the main contributors, light pollution is impactful too. If you do want to light up a part of your garden there are a few things you can do.
Try to minimize disturbance by positioning lights low and point them down to avoid distracting moths and bats. Choose low intensity lights and warmer hues to reduce disruption to wildlife. Solar lighting is cheap, safe and emits a dull glow that is less blinding to animals, although it may not be so efficient in the Scottish winter! Finally, turn off lights when not in use or fit timers so they are only on when necessary.
Our keen birdwatchers continue to meet once a month and were rewarded with sightings of Redwing and Fieldfare as well as a large flock of migratory Blackbirds. These birds join our residents to eat the berries on the hawthorns and rowans. If you would like to join us, the next meeting will be on Wednesday 22nd November at 10am. Meet at the chimney, dress for outdoors, and we can provide binoculars but bring them along if you have your own.
The Hidden Gardens Zine was born during Growing Together, the celebration event of 20 years of The Hidden Gardens, in collaboration with the Glasgow Zine Library. Within its colourful pages you’ll discover a compilation of thoughts, wishes, memories and artistic impressions of the garden as shared by visitors and volunteers.
The Hidden Gardens Zine was born during Growing Together, the celebration event of 20 years of The Hidden Gardens, in collaboration with the Glasgow Zine Library. Within its colourful pages you’ll discover a compilation of thoughts, wishes, memories and artistic impressions of the garden as shared by visitors and volunteers.
With the arrival of September summer is drawing to a close, the nights are cooler and the days shorter, but there will still be warmth on a sunny day, and the seasonal harvests and colours of autumn tinge the foliage around us. We are enjoying the late flowering annuals; cosmos, calendula, snapdragons, which will keep […]
With the arrival of September summer is drawing to a close, the nights are cooler and the days shorter, but there will still be warmth on a sunny day, and the seasonal harvests and colours of autumn tinge the foliage around us. We are enjoying the late flowering annuals; cosmos, calendula, snapdragons, which will keep going as long as we continue deadheading until the first frosts. Our fruit trees are laden with apples and pears, and nuts and berries provide a feast for the birds and squirrels.
Our Lawn is Getting a Close Trim
Its now time to cut back all our lawn, including the sections left unmown throughout the year, and remove all clipping to the compost heap. We will begin to aerate, rake and brush in a top dressing of sand to keep our lawn healthy and help it withstand picnics, tai chi and events throughout the year.
Planning our Spring Garden
And it always pays to be continually planning ahead. It’s time to think about next Spring! Bulbs are in the shops and available online so don’t leave it too late to get the best choices. If you’re not sure where the gaps are in your Spring garden then plant up some pots that can be placed in spaces next year. You may need to protect from scavenging squirrels by covering with chicken wire or jaggy prunings such as holly.
At this time of year, it is tempting to think it’s time to ‘tidy’ the garden; cutting back plants that have finished flowering, clearing borders and removing fallen leaves. However, it is worth taking a moment to think about what is happening in the garden and how important it is to allow nature to head towards autumn and winter in its own time. This will be appreciated by the wildlife living in the garden as well as benefiting the soil and the environment. The colours, textures and shapes of developing seedheads and autumnal leaves adds a whole new dimension to the garden landscape. And by leaving seedheads to mature we can collect seed for next year. Also leaving vital food sources for birds and shelter for mini beast. All you have to do is collect your seed heads on a dry day, its very important to make sure they are dry! Pop them into a paper bag, the seeds will fall out and can be separated from the pods or seed casings and stored in a paper bag or envelope until next Spring.
We have carried out two moth surveys in the past month. Earlier in August Richard Weddle identified a new record for the Gardens – the Iron Prominent. The larvae of this moth feed on birch and sometime oak and hazel, all of which grow here.
Richard has also been busy identifying insects from previous visits and has recorded an unusual metallic green weevil Polydrusus formosus. This is a first for The Hidden Gardens and there are only a handful of other Glasgow records, all from the last 3 years.
Our experience of this group of beetles tends to be their potential destruction of plant roots, or spoiling bags of flour and grains. However only a tiny minority of weevils cause destruction while the majority contribute to functioning ecosystems. One way they do this is by pollinating a range of plants.
If you are interested in reading more about this fascinating aspect of weevils lifecycle, here’s a good read.
Collecting the Seeds from our Tomatoes
We have been enjoying the varieties of tomatoes we have grown this year so now is a good time to think about collecting seeds for next year – saves a bit of money and it means you can save seeds from the plants you know grew well in your own conditions.
To save tomato seeds first pick ripe fruit, free from any diseases, and not from F1 varieties which won’t necessarily grow with same characteristics again (it will say on the seed packet
Scoop out the seeds along with the flesh and put into a container with a lid and leave for a few days, stirring twice a day. It will become mouldy and smelly which is what we want, this breaks down the gelatinous substances surrounding the seeds which contain inhibitors to germination.
After a few days fill the container with clean water and swirl, the healthy seeds should fall to the bottom, and the mouldy material can be poured away, repeat several times until you are left with clean seeds in the bottom of your jar.
Tip these out onto kitchen paper to dry then store them in an envelope in a cool dry place, ready for sowing next year. Remember to label with the variety and the date.
The freshness of early summer may be over and the gardens are tinged with maturity but late summer blooms are preparing to take over with cosmos peeking through the phlox and acanthus along the white wall border. There is plenty to distract attention while cutting back foliage, weeding and pruning along the borders; bumblebees crawling […]
The freshness of early summer may be over and the gardens are tinged with maturity but late summer blooms are preparing to take over with cosmos peeking through the phlox and acanthus along the white wall border. There is plenty to distract attention while cutting back foliage, weeding and pruning along the borders; bumblebees crawling into the depths of the acanthus flowers, the heady scent wafting from the jasmine, and a spectacular second flowering of the wisteria.
Acanthus or Bears breechesWisteria
Updates from our kitchen garden
We continue to harvest vegetables, salads and herbs from the potager and herb borders. Slugs have enjoyed feasting on many of our cauliflowers but the surviving one was carefully picked and divided between volunteers!
Our greenhouse is bursting with tomatoes of every colour shape and size: green zebra, black cherry, yellow pear, orange burst, tigerella and a classic gardeners delight. Aubergines and cucumbers are ripening and a fig or two have been shared at tea break
To make sure all the green tomatoes fully ripen over the coming months now is the time to cut the bottom leaves on each plant. This will let in light and air so the fruit get more sun-light and the ventilation reduces the risk of disease. As the month progresses more leaves can be removed. We will continue with a weekly seaweed or comfrey feed to maximise flower and fruit production, and water regularly to prevent blossom end rot – a blackening at the tip of the fruit caused by calcium deficiency due to irregular watering
Gardening need not be a costly undertaking; there are many ways to enjoy a beautiful garden while spending little or no money. For example, many mature plants can be divided (geraniums, rhubarb, chives), strawberries produce baby plants from runners and these can be potted up, or you can expand your plant collection by taking cuttings. Now is the perfect time for taking semi-ripe cuttings and it’s a deeply satisfying process when successful.
Semi-ripe cuttings are taken from this season’s growth as it starts to harden off. Choose healthy strong straight growth, free from flowers or flower buds. Once you have cut your plant material place them immediately in a polythene bag to stop them drying and pot them up as soon as possible.
Strip off all the lower leaves and side shoots, and cut the stem with sharp secateurs or a knife, just below a node (the point the leaves join the stem).
Place around the edge of a pot of gritty compost, or a mix of perlite and compost. To form roots the plant doesn’t need nutrients but does needs oxygen and water so the planting medium needs to be well draining but do not allow it to dry out.
Place somewhere warm and light but not direct sunlight and keep moist. Once you see signs of new growth and roots emerging from the bottom of the pot, maybe 4-6 weeks later, then it will be time to pot on to a more nutritious compost. Plants to try now are salvias, nepeta, rosemary and lavender. Experiment with what you have, give it a go, and enjoy your free plants ready for next year!
At this time of year the garden birds take time to moult and tend to lay low, singing less to avoid attracting too much attention. However, on our last bird club meeting we were treated to blackcap singing in the trees, our ever curious juvenile robin, and a dunnock enjoying a dusty bath in a sunny spot in the woodland glade. Next bird club will be on Wednesday 16th August at 10am. All welcome, meet at chimney.
Although we have not enjoyed many sunny days in July we have spotted a few butterflies fluttering through the borders. Green-veined, Large and Small Whites, Tortoiseshell, Meadow Brown have all been spotted. The whites can be difficult to distinguish but the key is to look at the underside of the wings, visible when the butterfly is resting. Butterfly conservation has some useful tips here.
And if you have a spare 15 minutes there is still time to take part in the Big Butterfly Count until 6th August. National surveys like these are an important method of monitoring the health of our butterfly populations and by taking part you are contributing to vital science.
Hello, I’m Georgia, one of the seven Garden Assistants at The Hidden Gardens. When the weekend comes around, we’re here to welcome visitors and make sure everything is cared for. From May throughout the summer (depending on our temperamental weather) this can mean spending an entire day just watering – from the plant sale kiosk, […]
Hello, I’m Georgia, one of the seven Garden Assistants at The Hidden Gardens. When the weekend comes around, we’re here to welcome visitors and make sure everything is cared for. From May throughout the summer (depending on our temperamental weather) this can mean spending an entire day just watering – from the plant sale kiosk, to the greenhouses and raised beds, and our own nursery of young plants. Having so many containers is necessary for a garden built on an old concrete tram depot, but it does mean that things dry out quickly. Because of this we try to use collected rainwater as much as possible – in other words many trips to and from the water butts.
The wildlife that we have in the garden is one of the highlights of working here: sometimes you find unusual-looking caterpillars, eating their way through young leaves before they transform over summer. You might even find more mature versions of the same species, like the striking cinnabar moth in the Bee and Butterfly border we spotted recently.
As a Garden Assistant, this time of year is probably the most relaxed, as all the heavy manual work has been done over winter (washing greenhouses for 2 days in a hailstorm), and the race-against-time seed sowing done in spring. On my shifts I like to explore the scented herbs you can find around the garden. I’ve been really enjoying the winter savoury growing
in the herb bed, and was even able to take some home from the kiosk to grow in my own allotment. Most garden assistants grow in other places too!
Our recent moth survey was very successful with 10 different species recorded including this amazing Elephant hawk-moth. Moths are important pollinators but can play second fiddle to butterflies and bees. They are often only seen at night and can be less spectacularly coloured but the Elephant Hawk-moth is stunning, and a close up of any moth can reveal intricate markings. The caterpillars of this moth feeds on nectar of rosebay willowherb, a beautiful wildflower of railway embankments and wilder areas of the Gardens.
Volunteers are the heart and soul of our garden. From nurturing plants to supporting our community programmes and events, their hard work creates a sanctuary of beauty and tranquillity for everyone to enjoy. In recognition of Volunteers’ Week 2023, we would like to share some of their stories and journey at The Hidden Gardens. Greenthumbs […]
Volunteers are the heart and soul of our garden. From nurturing plants to supporting our community programmes and events, their hard work creates a sanctuary of beauty and tranquillity for everyone to enjoy. In recognition of Volunteers’ Week 2023, we would like to share some of their stories and journey at The Hidden Gardens.
Tam found out about volunteering at The Hidden Gardens through his support worker Stevie at the Mungo Foundation. Motivated by a recent family bereavement, he sought a positive change in his life and the opportunity to meet new people. Despite health challenges, Tam engages weekly in various gardening tasks, excelling in composting. He appreciates the supportive atmosphere, getting to meet people, the chance to learn and share skills, and the joy of taking home volunteer-grown produce. Tam’s highlight was attending an award event where The Hidden Gardens won recognition for inclusive volunteering. “The Hidden Gardens is like a big family to me” says Tam, “I wish I had discovered it earlier – since starting here, I’ve never looked back”!
Sylvia’s Culinary Journeys
Cultural Cookery has been a staple of the Hidden Gardens. Running since 2007, this programme has allowed us to create a space for women from all backgrounds to share recipes and their love for cooking, socialise and improve their skills. One of them was Sylvia, who after participating in the class decided to join us as a class volunteer.
Sylvia had dreams of becoming a chef, and entered a competition for a scholarship in Europe, but had to drop out to support her family. Years after, Cultural Cookery came as an opportunity for her to develop her cooking skills to the next level. “The class allowed me to meet new people, make friends, taste food from all around the world and educate my palette! My cupboards are now full of new ingredients, and I feel more adventurous, trying out new recipes and sharing my creations with friends and family”. Sylvia’s new go-to recipes now include pakoras and Malaysian corn fritters. “I’ve learned a lot in this class. From handy tips like how to cut an onion without crying buckets, to important lessons about food hygiene. Most importantly though, the class gave me the confidence to mix with people again”.
Gary and his Camera
The COVID pandemic and lockdown had a significant impact on many people’s mental health and wellbeing, increasing anxiety levels, isolation and exacerbating existing mental health conditions. Our Men’s Group volunteer Gary, was no exception. Suffering the consequences of a terrible accident he had before the pandemic, lockdown caused his mental health to take a turn for the worse. When he joined our group for the first time in 2022, he was pleasantly surprised by how friendly and welcoming everyone was: “After being lonely for a while, I really enjoyed the opportunity to be with other people. In this group, conversation doesn’t feel forced, grows naturally out of doing things. That’s what I enjoy the most”.
As time goes by, Gary has taken a more active role in our group, becoming our volunteer photographer, documenting important moments of the group with his camera. You might have seen some of his cracking shots have been featured in our social media posts! Recently, he also attended a photography and mapping course as part of the Gallant Green Map Photo Project, and his photos were exhibited at The Hidden Gardens. Since joining the Men’s Group, Gary’s started going to a writers’ group. He also aspires to start a new photo blog and deliver a photography and writing workshop to the Men’s Group in Autumn!
Volunteering at The Hidden Gardens
If you would like to support our work and take up a new activity, you are welcome to join our team of volunteers. You can find more information about our current volunteering opportunities at our website or by emailing: firstname.lastname@example.org.
The days reach their peak this month with mid-summer on the 21st June. The garden still has the freshness of new spring growth but with the addition of the first of the summer blooms. There’s so much to do; weeding, watering, planting, pruning, sowing, more weeding, more watering… but it’s important to take time and […]
The days reach their peak this month with mid-summer on the 21st June. The garden still has the freshness of new spring growth but with the addition of the first of the summer blooms. There’s so much to do; weeding, watering, planting, pruning, sowing, more weeding, more watering… but it’s important to take time and appreciate this fleeting moment in the gardening year.
The tulips are giving way to the alliums and the peony buds are bursting into flower along the white wall border, interspersed with pops of colour from the oriental poppies. We often treat bulbs as annuals, enjoying then in pot displays then composting or throwing them away, but they can be planted out in the garden, to the same depth as they were growing in the pot and they will continue to flower for years to come. Alliums, narcissi and hyacinths all work well in borders or planted through longer grass and as they naturalise will produce stunning spring displays.
The blossom on the espalier fruit trees is mingling with the wisteria, clematis and vine leaf burst, and we are hopeful of a good harvest later in the autumn. Wisteria flowers on this year’s growth so after flowering, around mid-June, we will cut back all new growth and secure and train against the wall. A further prune takes place in the new year when the leaves have fallen and everything is more obvious, so it is better to be cautious at this time if unsure where to cut.
At this time of year apples and pears often suddenly deposit lots of tiny fruit on the ground. This is called ‘June drop’ and is the tree’s natural response to reducing the number of fruit it carries, ensuring the remainder ripen successfully. It is a good idea to selectively remove some of the developing fruit yourself before the tree does it so that you can remove the smallest, leaving 2-3 fruit per spur. These will then develop without touching and can grow and ripen without risk of damage.
The unmown main lawn is now awash with daisies, dandelions, meadow buttercup, mouse-ear, germander speedwell and the odd cuckoo-flower, attracting butterflies and a host of birds – starlings, goldfinches and blackbirds – feasting on creatures in the longer grass. We will leave two strips uncut for the whole summer, and resume mowing the central area with a higher cut from June and leaving longer between cuts. This will make the grass more resilient to dry spells of weather and allow the daisies to pop up again between cuts.
What to do with your leftover garden pots?
While we don’t have capacity to collect old pots we would appreciate it if you could return any from plants you have purchased here. Dobbies garden centres have recycling facilities for plant pots: https://www.dobbies.com/pot-recycling. Alternatively, you can decant your plant into a cardboard pot and plant straight into the ground, leaving us our plastic pots to reuse.
Have you visited our plant kiosk recently?
The plant kiosk is continually topped up with a mix of perennials from the gardens, seasonal flowers, veg and various herbs. All the plants are grown in peat free compost with no pesticides, vital considerations for addressing the biodiversity and climate crisis. Money raised from the sale of plants is a vital income, contributing to maintenance of the gardens and your support is much appreciated.
Lesley joined us again for a great bird club on 24th May. We were excited to record a willow warbler, a summer visitor, amongst the usual favourites but the highlight was watching the parent bluetits flying in and out of one of our nest boxes. The pair were kept busy bringing in insects and returning with faecal sacs from the young chicks, important to keep the nest clean for the growing youngsters! Join us for the next bird club on Wednesday 21st June at 10am, meet by the chimney and bring binoculars if you have your own.
Although the weather has continued to be unsettled – cold nights, windy days – the sun is stronger and there’s sometimes warmth through the cloud. We are enjoying the cheery tulips and the blossom on the espalier fruit trees, apple following the pear, visited by pollinators like this Early Bumblebee, ensuring a good crop later […]
Although the weather has continued to be unsettled – cold nights, windy days – the sun is stronger and there’s sometimes warmth through the cloud. We are enjoying the cheery tulips and the blossom on the espalier fruit trees, apple following the pear, visited by pollinators like this Early Bumblebee, ensuring a good crop later in the year.
Seed sowing in the Gardens is now in full swing. We have sown some crops direct into the ground: peas, broadbeans, beetroot, spring onion and spinach beet, but some benefit from
starting their growing journey in the greenhouse in trays, pots and modules. Cucumbers and melon to grow on in the greenhouse, French beans, courgettes and sweetcorn to plant out when you can feel warmth in the soil and all risk of frost has passed.
‘Ne’er cast a clout til May’s oot’, in other words don’t pack away your warm clothes until the blossom on the May tree or Hawthorn is out!
Our wee tomato seedlings have been potted up, planting them deeply right up to the bottom leaf, as the buried stem will develop extra roots. As the young plants grow, they develop side shoots between the stem and the leaves. These will take extra energy away from the plant so it is best to pinch them off with thumb and finger first thing in the morning.
We also sow flowering plants to ensure the gardens are blooming from mid-summer onwards, great for pollinators as well as visitors. Annuals such as Calendula, French Marigold and Nasturtium are all easy to grow and great companion plants in the veg patch. Tender annuals such as cosmos and sunflowers will be planted in clumps and drifts throughout the borders and in planters and containers to enhance the overall planting. Biennials form a small plant in their first year and bloom the second year before setting seed and now is the time to think about sowing these seeds: wallflower, honesty, foxgloves, all provide early summer colour and with luck they will happily self-seed around the gardens, or we can collect seed to sow the following spring.
The Flowery Meadow has been planted up with a mix of native wildflowers, self-seeders and the odd random plant that has popped in from elsewhere in the Gardens! It is a joy to watch the plants gradually appearing over the weeks and we wait with anticipation to see how it evolves this year; which plants have seeded or spread, have any been lost, any new appearances. We do grow some plug plants to dot around the area and have recently planted Wild Carrot, Devil’s Bit Scabious, Vipers Bugloss and Kidney Vetch to increase diversity and provide food, shelter and habitat for wildlife. We counted 8 species in flower at the moment, with a highlight being the primrose, cowslip and oxslip all making an appearance!
Our plant kiosk is back offering a variety of perennials, summer annuals, herbs and vegetable plants. All our plants are grown or propagated in peat free compost by ourselves, and all proceeds are used to maintain the Gardens for all to enjoy.
We have set up our first moth trap of the season with volunteer Richard Weddle from GNHS. Not a huge list but we did record the Early Grey, a first for The Hidden Gardens. You can find a full list of species recorded here on GNHS website Biodiversity Sites the West of Scotland (glasgownaturalhistory.org.uk).
We look forward to setting up the moth trap throughout the year and learning more about the moths of the hidden gardens.
Our birdclub met on the last Wednesday in April and we had a sunny morning listening to birdsong and spotting birds in the high trees or scurrying around the undergrowth. Highlights included the very cute young robin, and the very vocal tiny wren.
In all 13 species were counted including the declining greenfinches and visiting blackcaps.
No Mow May
Our lawn plays a central role in the Gardens, as a place to meet, play and relax, but we want to make room for wildlife too and by carefully managing the space, we can ensure it is an oasis for all. Lawns have traditionally been strictly managed but we don’t need a ‘bowling green’ standard lawn, taking time and money and energy to maintain. A wilder lawn is much more interesting to us and beneficial for wildlife. A diversity of wildflowers will benefit bees and butterflies, provide shelter for caterpillars and beetles and other insects, which in turn feed birds and bats.
The climate crisis is causing dramatic changes to our weather patterns but lawns can play an important part in urban gardens, and its important we all learn to adapt.
We usually think of trees as important carbon sinks but grassy meadows and garden greenery capture and store carbon in our soils and are important part of climate action. Areas of grass stay cooler than concrete and paving, and lawns can soak up and filter rainwater, slowing run off and reducing flooding.
An established lawn should not need watering, and even if it looks parched and brown in dry weather, it will soon bounce back after a shower of rain. Longer grass will have deeper, stronger roots, making it more resilient to dry spells, as well as providing shady shelter for wildlife to escape the heat.
And by mowing less, we are cutting down on the carbon foot print of mowing too! Taking part in Take part in No Mow May – Plantlife is an ideal opportunity to discover exactly what is growing in your lawn. We plan to leave the whole lawn unmown through May, then leave strips uncut throughout the summer. You may want to try the same, or try a mown path through your developing meadow, or designate areas to mow every 3-4 weeks and leave some areas uncut until the end of summer. Lots of opportunity to experiment and discover the benefits of a wilder lawn!