Month: May 2012

Trugg and Barrow’s Garden Diary June 2012

“It’s better to wear away than rust away.”
It’s that time of year in the garden when you don’t know whether you’re coming or going.
Weather-wise, May was a month of two contrasting halves. The beginning of the month was cold and wet with danger of frost on many of the nights. As a result, spring growth was around 10 days behind where it would normally be. Then, as if somebody flicked a switch, the rain stopped, temperatures increased, the sun shone and the birds began to sing. Night time temperatures haven’t dropped below around 12 ºC over the last two weeks of the month, a big contrast to the beginning.
One Sunday in early May saw an unusual sight, as 102 tractors from the Tern Valley Vintage Tractor Club passed through the garden.
The beginning of June will be very busy as the garden is playing host to a plant hunters’ fair.
Ephemeral Glory: The Umbelliferacea
Having passed up the opportunity of a more alliterative title, I cannot forego singing the praises of one of my favourite plant families. Furthermore, as I write, Anthriscus sylvestris, commonly known as ‘Cow Parsley’ is decorating the lanes and verges all around us, doing much of the hard work for me.
As May rolls into June the genus is coming into its own. All share common traits, usually very divided foliage, giving the plants a transparent air, and individual flowers born on short stalks, arranged umbrella fashion. Plants range from annuals and biennials to perennials and are amongst the most versatile of garden plants.
If you don’t fancy planting ‘Cow Parsley’ in your garden try Anthriscus sylvestris ‘Ravenswing’, identical in every way except for dramatic purple foliage and stems. Although it is an annual it will self-seed freely and come true if kept isolated from other cow parslies.
Angelica is perhaps the most statuesque of umbelliferae for the border. A biennial, it will be familiar to cake decorators but makes a superb garden plant. Angelica gigas is well known and frequently encountered in garden centres. After spending its first year producing foliage, sturdy stems rise to 6 feet, bearing flowers of a dusky hue. Less well known is Angelica taiwaniana ‘Vicar’s Mead’ which can soar to as much as 10 feet in a good soil with stems of blackish purple and umbels up to five inches across.
Many people would not immediately associate the masterworts or Astrantia with the umbelliferacea (or Apiaceae as the taxonomists would have it). Yet these are amongst the most durable and easy to cultivate of garden plants. Look closely however and you will see the family resemblance; the inflorescence being a buttonlike umbel surrounded by showy bracts. Amongst those in cultivation Astrantia major is the major player in all its forms and for me the finest is A. major ‘Hadspen Blood’. Most members of the genus flower only once before setting seed and in many cases dying off. However the Astrantias have a long flowering period: first emerging in late May they will repeat flower all summer if dead headed and kept watered.
For borders in full sun with sharply draining soil, Chaerophyllum hirsutum ‘Roseum’ will flourish, producing misty pink flowers in April atop finely dissected foliage that emerges in late winter. Yet my favourite has to be Selinum tenuifolium from Nepal. It is a rarely encountered plant but worth searching out. It does best in rich soil where it displays the most finely dissected foliage topped with white flowers on 5ft stems in late spring. Although it has a reputation a s a short lived perennial it will last in a good soil under cultivation.
The plants discussed here represent only a fraction of those within this fascinating genus which offers few challenges to the gardener and plenty of rewards. Don’t be put off by the annual or biennial nature of some as the excitement and ease of growing a ten foot monster from seed will prove a delight.
In the Kitchen Garden
Slugs have been a big problem in the veg garden this Spring; the wet April seems to have spurred them on. At the moment they are causing a lot of damage. I am using ‘environmentally friendly’ slug pellets to try and control them. If I don’t they will strip everything bare.
The wet beginning to May ensured that the soil was moist for planting out young brassicas, lettuce plants and just about everything else that is going to be grown in the vegetable garden this year. Despite the slugs best efforts, most things have established, all be it a bit chewed. In June I will sow successional crops of carrot, lettuce, radish etc. The tomato and cucumbers will also be set out in their cropping positions in the glasshouse.
If you have not done so already, straw the strawberries soon. This keeps fruit clean (reducing disease) and also helps to keep slugs at bay.
It is surprising how dry the surface of the soil has already become, even after such a prolonged wet period between April and mid May. As gardeners we should all be concerned about the environment, as we depend entirely upon it. Part of being good stewards is to make sure that the water we use in the garden is done so wisely. Before watering;

  • Check that it is necessary to water by digging to a depth of 15-20 cm, if the soil at this depth is dry then water.
  • Water heavily occasionally rather than lightly every day or every other day. A good soak at 10 day intervals to about 20 cm is much more efficient, and better for the plants.
  • Water in the evenings, this allows water to soak into the ground instead of evaporating.
  • Mulching moist ground helps reduce evaporation.
  • If rain is due, delay watering (keep an eye on the weather forcast).

Hopefully these measures will help save water and reduce the work load.
Last year produced a bumper crop of apples and pears in the garden. I delayed the fruit thinning operation that should have been done in late June after the natural fruit shedding that occurs in that month (known as the ‘June drop’). Unfortunately, this delay on my part led to damage to some of the trees due to the weight of fruit. At the moment it does not look like there is going to be a good year for top fruit. This could be due to the cold weather we had during the flowering period or to the very heavy crop the trees produced last year (there are other reasons why fruit trees may produce low yields but I have discounted these). With apples and pears, thin to 2 fruits per cluster, removing the weakest and keeping the best.
Please note: images have been removed from this pages because some of them may have been used without permission.

Help shape Shropshire Healthwatch

Shropshire Council Newsroom reports an invitation to people across Shropshire to help shape a new organisation that will make their views heard on health and social care services.

Ideas and thoughts are sought on how Shropshire Healthwatch should work best for the people of Shropshire.
Shropshire Council is responsible for ensuring that a local Healthwatch organisation is set up to become the county’s independent champion for health and social care. This came about as part of the recent Health and Social Care Act 2012 which also sets out the transfer of public health work currently undertaken by Shropshire County Primary Care Trust (PCT) to Shropshire Council in April 2013.

The full report can be found here. Residents are encouraged to share their views on Shropshire Healthwatch by filling in an online survey on the Council’s website here.
The deadline for filling in the survey is Friday 15 June 2012, and it is available in other formats.
Councillor Ann Hartley, Shropshire Council’s Cabinet member for health and well-being, said:

“We are embracing our new roles as outlined in the Health and Social Care Act 2012, to improve the health and well-being of Shropshire’s residents and reduce inequalities in health.
“Healthwatch will help ensure that services are more responsive to what matters to people, and are designed around their needs. Exactly what Healthwatch looks like and how it achieves these aims depends on what people tell us, so we are urging people to take this opportunity to share their views.”

Councillor Steve Charmley, Cabinet member responsible for active and healthy lifestyles, added:

“There is freedom and flexibility about what form Shropshire Healthwatch will take based on the needs and wishes of our communities.
“Please get in touch and tell us your ideas on how Healthwatch can support people to speak out and give those who want to get more involved in shaping health and social care, the opportunity to do so.”

Art Competition – All entries now on website

Entries for Website’s Art Competition are now available to view.

All thirteen entries can be seen here. They will also be on display in the main marquee at this weekend’s Party in the Park.
Judging will take place during the week. The winners will be announced and prizes awarded on Sunday between 4:30 & 5:00pm on the main stage.

Art Competition – First Entries Received

The first batch of entries for the 2012 Art Competition have been received and photographs of them posted on the web site.
All the entries can be seen on the the competitions own page here.
The deadline for entries has also been extended from today until Monday afternoon. Hodnet Post Office will now accept entries up to when they close on Monday (28th May).

Cakes, Pies and Bread

Baking competition; split into 5 catagories

Baking is taking on a real theme for July’s Jubilee celebrations, below is a review of all the different catagories available, good luck and have fun.
Ladies only, 4oz Victoria sponge, using this recipe;
4oz (110 grams) butter, caster sugar and self-raising flour
2 large eggs
Sweetened whipped cream
Mens only Chocolate cake
Open class fruit pie
Under 16′s jubilee themed cup cake
There will also be an open age bread making class.
First prize in each catagory is an especially commissioned hand painted bone china bowl in a presentation box. This unique souvenir for the winner is supplied by The Character Jug in Hodnet.
All entries must be submitted between 12.00 p.m and 1 p.m. Judging will take place at 2.30 p.m.

All of the entries that are not claimed back will be auctioned off at around 4.30 p.m
Diamond Jubilee Cake Competition, run  by the The Meadows Community Group
This is a cake decorated on a royal theme, there is a cash prize for the winner (donated  by  Mr Farrington of The Bear in Hodnet). Entries to the Community Group table between 12 p.m. and1 p.m. please.
A current programme for the day can be found here.

Free loft and cavity wall insulation

This week Shropshire Newsroom reports an announcement by Keep Shropshire Warm (Shropshire Council’s affordable warmth project) of free loft and cavity wall insulation (subject to survey) for all residents of Shropshire.
It is estimated that installing loft insulation could save a household around £175 a year on their energy bills, and installing cavity wall insulation could save around £135 a year.
Tim Baldwin of Keep Shropshire Warm said:

“We are urging all residents of Shropshire that haven’t done so already to get in touch and get insulated against the cold and rising energy prices now. This offer is based on energy company subsidies which are due to end this year. After that the price of having insulation is likely to increase drastically.”

Call Keep Shropshire Warm on 01743 277123, or email, to take advantage of subsidised insulation.
Full information on all advice and services offered by Keep Shropshire Warm can be found on their website.

Catalytic Converter Thefts

The Shropshire Community Messaging (more details) service reports that there appears to be an increase in catalytic converters thefts in several areas of Shropshire. In North Shropshire the area being targeted is the Higher Heath/ Prees area. The vehicles being attacked are Land Rovers, Mercedes and Peugeot cars.
Higher Heath and Prees are not that far from Hodnet, so please be aware of the dangers – especially if you own one of the above makes of vehicle.
The service is also reporting a series of Parcel Delivery Scams. The warning was issued by West Mercia Police following three unordered deliveries to homes in the Market Drayton area believed to be part of a scam. In each incident, a parcel delivery was made by the Littlewoods catalogue service. Within minutes, the recipients received either a phone call or a home visit by a man claiming the parcels had been wrongly delivered. None of the recipients had actually ordered goods. The full report can be found on the West Mercia police website here.

Shropshire Community Messaging

Shropshire Community Messaging is a computerised communication system run by Shropshire Division of West Mercia Police. The service offers local residents, neighbourhood watch co-ordinators, businesses, farms, schools and partnerships information and alerts about crimes, incidents and events in their local area.
The service exists in the hope that by improving the flow of information between the community and its police it can make a greater impact in the prevention and detection of crime and anti-social behaviour. More details can be found on their website.
The service is free to everyone and you can choose to receive information by SMS text, Voice message or email.
The messages seem to come in batches, perhaps it is operated by part-time or voluntary staff, but they do contain information relevant to the Hodnet area. We will do our best to forward relevant information on via this website as soon as possible, but we suggest you sign up for personal alerts if you wish to receive the information as soon as possible.

Art Competition: One week left to enter

There is just one week left for young people to enter the website’s Art Competition.

The theme for the competition is “Life in the country” and we are looking for sketches, drawings, paintings, collages or similar up to A3 in size. Any you person  16 or under can enter up to three pieces of work.
Full details, rules and entry forms are available via the Art Competition’s main page here.
Entries need to be delivered to Hodnet Post Office or Hodnet School by Friday 25th May.
All entries will be displayed on the website and the winning entry will feature on the website’s home page over the summer.

Still time to complete Broadband Survey

In a report published yesterday (17 May) by Shropshire Council’s Newsroom, a further appeal was made for residents to complete the Connecting Shropshire Broadband Survey before the end of the month.
Whilst completed surveys now numbered over 4,000, the report encouraged more people to fill it in over the next two weeks.

The Connecting Shropshire campaign is working hard to improve broadband provision, with the aim that every property will have access to a 2Mbps level of broadband by the end of 2015, and as many as possible having access to superfast broadband.
The campaign is currently at a critical stage, when Shropshire needs to demonstrate to the private sector that we want faster broadband. A survey is running to register the demand, and the more people that sign up, the more external funding Shropshire is likely to get.

Councillor Martin Taylor-Smith, Cabinet member for IT, said:

“Whatever happens this project will result in better broadband for Shropshire, but more public support will mean a greater likelihood of securing more external funding to get the best solution possible. People are starting to get the message, and we have actually had more responses this week than any other week so far.
“We have now hit the 4,000 mark, but we would love to get a lot more than that, so I would urge as many people as possible to get on the Connecting Shropshire website and do the survey. If you don’t have access to the internet, you can use the computers at your local Broadplace or library, or call the council on 0345 678 9000 and give your details over the phone.”

The full report can be found here. To go direct to the survey click here.