Saturday, 2 March 2013

AirSpace Yarden - paint, plants and a pond

The sun shone all day today, as Springtime reached Stoke-on-Trent, and in the Yarden, a bit of spring cleaning was top of the agenda. We had decided that the gallery's rear wall, which is a mix of bare brick and a big patch of rough plaster, could not only do with a bit of sprucing up but, if we painted it white, could also help to reflect a bit of much needed light into the space, which due to its close proximity to such a tall building, is predominantly shady. It took no time at all to do, and once finished, looked great and gave us the feeling that the yard had got a new hat.

Earlier in the week, Anna and Andy had made a start on bringing in some of the designated plants, chosen in particular for their suitability for a variety of birdlife. Trips to Trentham Gardens Garden Centre, and Bridgemere Nursery and Garden World proved really fruitful, in particular at Bridgemere where the most helpful of workers took the time to go and find out for us the RSPB's top ten plants for birds.We were encouraged that we had already identified most on the list, but a couple were new to us, such as Knapweed (Centaurea), Flowering Tobacco (Nicotiana) and Millet (Panicum miliacium).

the yarden plan

Once the wall was painted and the main part of the yard was cleared, we started to lay out the breeze blocks which are going to make up the base structure of the raised planting beds. We aim to have these mortared into place next week, ready to be painted. The bed is going to be about 6 metres long, and about a metre at its widest, but tapered across the full length due to the shape of the yard. At a depth of about half a metre, there will be plenty of root space for a variety of plants. These will include, echinacia, cotoneaster, lavender,  salvias, clematis, honeysuckle, dog-rose, jasmine and pyrocantha, plus a few astrantias and some alyssums. We also put together a bench from some rescued slates and 2 halves of a pallet, which we can use as a work station.

Late in the day, we turned our attention to installing the pond, which sits in a sunken spot in the Buddleia garden, and which we hope will attract some dragonflies and, hopefully, some amphibian life. And we managed to get some plants into this part of the yarden too -  a couple of ferns, a whitecurrant and redcurrant and a flowering helleborus.

Today's feathered guardians were a tiny dunnock, who accompanied us throughout the day, keeping a watchful eye on our activities, and a few goldfinches who sat impatiently, chirping away on the gallery roof, waiting for us to finish up so they could make inroads into the replenished stock of sunflower seeds.

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