Wild flower area – Hamworthy Park

FOHP, together with a local school and Dorset Wildlife Trust,  have recently put in a new wild flower area in Hamworthy Park.

Previous attempts

After months of trying to get written permission from the council, it was finally agreed about six weeks ago that the Friends could experiment with a wildflower area located behind the Western end flood bank. A wildflower area had been tried by the council some years ago. This was behind the Eastern flood bank but it failed.

A new approach

In an effort to be more successful, we decided to consult the experts. So contact was made with Kew Gardens, Dorset Wildlife Trust and some specialist wildflower seed suppliers.  The main reason for the previous failure, apparently, was inadequate preparation and the location.  It is essential that all existing turf is removed and the patch dug over – removing as many weed roots as possible.  The soil level is then restored using poor quality top soil. Wildflowers grow best in poor soil and it is important not to apply any fertilizer. This is because in fertile soils, grasses and weeds tend to swamp the less competitive wildflowers.

The previous location was adjacent to a hedgerow. This was attractive to nesting birds and sowing seeds there was just like setting up a picnic table for them, so the experts said.

Pre-sown turf

Although it is more expensive, experts advised that the best chance of success would be to use a pre-sown turf of perennial flowers – but sow annual wildflower seed around the perimeter.  A suitable turf was ordered from a specialist nursery near Basingstoke and collection arranged for the 1st April.  The landscape turf we ordered contains up to 31 different perennial wildflower species and two non-invasive grasses.

Getting started

A few weeks ago, as many park users have noticed, an area was marked out and the FOHP volunteers got stuck in removing the turf. This turf was made use of to infill numerous holes in the grass throughout the park -probably the most strenuous bit of the project – pushing well laden wheelbarrows as far as the Eastern end! The area was dug over and bucket after bucket load of poor garden soil was delivered to the park by ‘the Paddling Pool Van’.

Twin sails help

Laura Clark, who runs the gardening club at Twin Sails Infant School, had previously asked if there was anything the children could help with in the park – we thought this would be an ideal project to involve them with.

The soil must be watered to saturation point two days before laying. But as we had had no appreciable rainfall for the previous three weeks, many gallons of water were transported to the park over the weekend and the turf was collected on the Monday.

The big day

On Tuesday morning another watering was carried out and in the afternoon the children, Molly, Adam and Max, accompanied by Laura Clark and Mrs Henstridge, met us in the park – after a quick rake over, laying commenced.  Katie Wilkinson from Dorset Wildlife Trust  also joined us as this project fits in well with their ‘Get Dorset Buzzing’ campaign which is aimed at saving pollinating insects.  The FOHP volunteers were almost made redundant as the children got stuck in rolling out the turf and bedding it in.  It then received another thorough watering. I think Max thought my shoes were a bit grubby so he watered them as well!  Attention was then turned to the surrounds.  These were raked over then, using homemade applicators (a small plant pot with most of its drain holes blanked off), wildflower seed premixed with fine sand so we could see where it was going was applied to the remaining exposed soil.

They then gently raked that area over. The accompanying photos show the children hard at work and what a good job they did – Thank you Molly, Adam and Max.

Wednesday volunteers – Nuts, bolts and snowdrops

Nuts and bolts

The Wednesday volunteers are getting quite used to picking up unusual litter. But why would anyone take the trouble to bring this tray full of new nuts, bolts and washers to the park then throw them into a bed of shrubs?

They had not been there long and there had been no maintenance work in that area that we know about for some years. We would love to know the story behind them!

Snowdrops

Snowdrops can be a bit temperamental, they either like a location or they don’t. If they decide they like a place they will thrive. Over a few years, they will multiply providing a wonderful display in our more dismal months giving some hope of better days to come.

Last year, with that in mind, at various locations in the park we planted a number of snowdrop bulbs in the green – a term used particularly with snowdrops when transplanting just after flowering before their leaves start to wither. Since early January, the volunteers have been keeping a careful watch for any signs of flowers. We had all but given up hope, when suddenly, in early February, the first signs of life appeared as seen in the photo.

So if you are enjoying a walk in the park keep your eyes open. If you see any more please let us know as we are still not convinced they like it here – let’s wait and see.

We will be planting more snowdrops later in the spring as we have been promised a further donation of bulbs.

The Paddling Pool

Those taking a walk in the park recently can hardly have failed to notice that a start has been made on what the Friends and much of the local community have been dreaming about for some considerable time, A NEW PADDLING POOL.

There has been good progress with the old base being broken up and removed. There was a bit of trouble breaking up the base of the original 1931 pool underneath.  Being of 1930s quality workmanship the steel rods had been welded at the crossing points making it harder going than anticipated. With that removed, the pilings are now being driven in to provide a firm base for the concrete slab.

 

Let’s keep our fingers crossed for good weather and an easy, problem free build. The time for celebration is when we see our children and grandchildren enjoying themselves in the new paddling pool in the sunshine!

We are keeping track of the renovations on Facebook so check in there for more information.

Planters around Hamworthy

As we reported earlier in the year, FOHP volunteers have been looking after the large planters in various spots all over Hamworthy. Here they are adding a welcome splash of colour to the mix of plants and shrubs.

On February 9th, 10.00am, we will be doing a spot of gardening in the beds outside McCalls and Boots – getting them up and running ready for the spring!

If you fancy putting your green fingers to good use, come and join us. You can find more details here.

Wednesday volunteers – Christmas crocuses and presents (?!) from Santa

Wishing all of you a very happy new year 2019!

Someone had been getting in the Christmas spirit over the festive season – as you can see from these two “presents” that were left in the park for the volunteers to deal with.

 

But there were also some very welcome signs that we hadn’t expected to see just yet. Much earlier than expected, look whats bursting into life in the park and it’s only just January!  Is this a sign of an early Spring? After last year’s weather, we wouldn’t care to say!

Keep your eyes open when enjoying the park, there should be plenty more in the weeks to come.  These are some of the crocuses the children planted last year. Hopefully, the 3500 spring bulbs planted this Autumn will establish themselves as well as these have done.

Wednesday Volunteers – The wetter the better

Despite the atrocious weather today we had four volunteers. Although two of us did have to return home for a change of dry clothing before returning for another soaking!

Despite the weather, a limited amount of litter picking was achieved between the heavy rain and hail showers and another batch of miniature daffodils were planted.
As can be seen in the picture, the oystercatchers had given up on the oysters and taken to the grass – are there more lucrative pickings to be had when the grass is saturated?

Wednesday Volunteers – Even more large litter

Today we were planting large daffodils in front of the shrubbery at the western end of the park. We often come across litter when carrying out these tasks, but not normally on the scale of what we found today!

Almost hidden from view was a motor scooter! This was well beyond the capacity of the litter pickers to extract from the bushes.

It was eventually hauled out by a group effort and deposited by the main entrance barrier. With the council informed, we then went down to the eastern end. There,  we aimed to recover two mangled bicycles that we did not have time to deal with last week. One of them had disappeared but the other was placed alongside the scooter for disposal.

The Wednesday volunteers meet every Wednesday outside the Park Cafe, 10.00am, for litter picking, light gardening, and general maintenance. Make your mark on the park. Just pop along and join us!

Saturday Volunteers – bulb planting in the park

Despite the mixed weather for our bulb planting event in the park, a large number of spring bulbs were planted between the showers.

The Trustees would like to say a very big thank you for all the help we received. It was particularly encouraging for us to see a good number of enthusiastic children there as well as a number of new faces. The planting continued along the area we started last year – the avenue of young oak trees between the cafe and outdoor activity centre.

Last year, we handed out the bulbs near the cafe and the children could not get them in the ground fast enough! This meant that at the cafe end we had a wonderful display, while at the other end the display of spring bulbs was quite sparse. So, this year we’ve concentrated on the outdoor activity centre end and planted over 1,300 crocus and 600 mixed miniature daffodils and narcissus in that area.

Considering the amount of rain we have had recently it was quite surprising as we dug the planting holes how dry the soil remains just 2 inches below the surface!

We kept a few bulbs back as we hope to have a local nursery school in the park who want to do some planting.  Last week, owing to the weather, we had to cancel the planned planting by Muddy Boots Nursery but they managed to come down on Friday and enjoyed themselves getting some bulbs in the ground.

Keep your eyes open next year as, hopefully, we should have a dazzling array of colour along ‘Oak Tree Avenue’, and for those of you who came and planted bulbs, you’ll be able to say “That one’s mine!”

Even with the bulb planting event and the nursery schools, we still have over 1,000 large daffodils and other assorted bulbs to plant which we hope our Wednesday Volunteers will be putting in over the next few weeks. These will be planted at various locations throughout the park and there are some tulips and iris for the flower bed in front of the cafe.

If you’d like to make your mark on the park, come down and join us. Wednesday, 10.00am, outside the Park Cafe. See you there!

Wednesday Volunteers – Large litter in the Park

The further we get into autumn, the more the litter problem in the park diminishes.  Although we still pick up several bucketfuls every week, it is nowhere near the amount we had to deal with at the height of summer.

Last week, we decided to litter pick along the beach or should it be called a debris pick?! Amongst the items pictured here were a disintegrating hatch cover from a boat and a plastic crate – much larger litter than we would normally come across – we guess because of the autumn storms.

Should this become a regular occurrence we may have to get some bigger buckets!

Wednesday volunteers – a tasty tomato plant

Look whats forcing its way up through the tarmac behind the flower bed just inside the paddling pool area.

Unfortunately, we think this tomato plant has left it a bit late in the year to make it through to the fruiting stage.

What a shame! If it had germinated earlier in the year, we could have potted it on and sold it at our plant sale.  Alternatively, we could have let it grow on and had real Hamworthy Park produce available at our September produce sale!

Perhaps this was someone’s leftover lunch? Either way, it’s an interesting and unexpected addition to the park!

The Wednesday volunteers meet every Wednesday in the Park at 10.00am outside the Park Cafe – just turn up and join us for informal gardening activities, litter picking and general maintenance, or contact us here.

Wednesday Volunteers – Catch of the day!

Whilst litter picking at the eastern end today, we came across some unusual activity that turned out to be a party from the Environment Agency Fisheries Dept carrying out a fish survey. They told us it is something they do on a regular basis at four locations in the Dorset area, usually twice a year at each.  

It is done by deploying a trawl net into the water about fifty yards out (in this case just to the left of the old power station outlet).  The depth of water at this point was probably less than three feet and it is then drawn back to the shoreline. The contents are then sorted separating the fish from the weed and the fish are then placed in a keep net.  

We were quite surprised at the size of the catch from just one trawl – at least 100, probably more, most of them young fish about 3 to 4 inches long!

We never imagined there was such an abundance of wildlife so close in to our park’s shoreline.  The team seemed quite pleased with the amount of fish they had found and told me the majority of the catch was bream, bass sprats and herring.

So keep an eye out for our finned friends – it’s great that there is such an abundance of life just off our shores!