17th February Update by Gill Matthews
Volunteers and plants need feeding! Birthday cake was speedily demolished at coffee break today which was also a welcome respite from the rain…yet again. Beds, by the cottage in the park, cleared last week had some nutritious, organic compost dug in before being planted up. This was a ‘no cost’ venture as the compost and plants were donated or propagated by volunteers. Fatsia, Day Lilies (Hemeracalis), Arum Lilies, Geums, Bergenia, Libertia and Golden Lonicera all went into the newly named ‘Rainbow Bed’. We have funded the replacement of the disintegrating, wooden surrounds of the three ex SHDC beds on the Embankment with new, solid, long lasting oak sleepers. An attractive display has been put in the empty shop by the Bus Station. As well as reminders about last year’s awards it tells you about up and coming events also ways YOU can help. A cheque for £100 was presented from Tesco to fund the meadow seeds by their store. Well done too to Tesco for their litter pick today. Just like us they weren’t put off by the weather. These community initiatives are essential if we are to keep our town attractive. Hopefully more local people and businesses will come on board to keep their locality clean and litter free.
16th February Update by Gill Matthews
It had to happen eventually. It was dry and sunny although still chilly. The hay cart, as well as a large number of volunteers, came out for an airing. The cart’s protective cover had collected enough water to make two small, ice-covered ponds so after careful removal it was left for a couple of hours to dry out. Measurements were taken for the construction of a planter to showcase the flowers more effectively. In the Recreation Ground an ‘insect hotel, beautifully made from recycled materials, was attached to the wall. Thank you George Howard of the Men’s Shed group for this. The bee-friendly beds by the War Memorial had a tidy up and some serious pruning while the beds in the park by the Bowling Club were dug over and most plants removed. The rather depleted soil here is in need of improvement before replanting. Many of the removed bulbs were rehomed by the perimeter wall. ‘Waste not, want not’, as the saying goes. At coffee break, (thank you The Creeks End as usual), three volunteers brought their own reusable cups to avoid using disposable ones. Thanks also to Charles Head estate agents for the loan of the empty shop by the bus station. We plan to put a KIB display in this central location shortly.
10th February Update by Gill Matthews
Come ‘hell or high water’ we went ahead with the first full scale official working party. It wasn’t quite hell but ‘high water’ was an apt description at one point with sunshine, hail, sleet and torrential rain within the space of two hours. On the positive side the soft, albeit muddy, ground did make weed removal easy. We descended mob-handed on the Quay House beds and removed an extraordinary amount, at least nine sack loads, of litter, leaves, weeds and material from some serious pruning. After this we fanned out across the square getting stuck in at various locations. The flag pole in the park needs attention as gales have broken the rope for hauling up the flag. Despite the innovative idea of sending a ferret up inside the pole with a new rope we have decided to use the more conventional method of lowering the pole in order to replace it. At coffee break, which cunningly coincided with the heaviest rain, our chairman updated the Team on various developments. Our propagation expert issued packets of seeds, including Cosmos and Rudbeckia, for volunteers to sow and grow on at home. The attractive, new Kingsbridge Guide, master-minded by Sam the TIC manager, has a well written and illustrated section on KIB.
9th February Update by Gill Matthews
By the time you read this our first official, full working party of the year will have taken place. In the meanwhile the committee held a second meeting and plans for 2018 are gathering pace. The South West in Bloom children’s art competition title, ‘It’s a Bugs Life,’ has been announced. Paint is the required medium this year which is not the easiest to use. However last year two paintings from Kingsbridge schools gained first places in both age categories. We will be contacting local primary schools with the details. Looking ahead to June the Community Garden will be running the popular ‘Open Gardens’ event raising money for St Lukes Hospice as well as our lovely, local Community Garden. This is an ‘It’s Your Neighbourhood’ project which deservedly gains top marks from the RHS judges and is always a ‘must see’ part of their tour of the town. The KIB ‘Garden Competition’ will follow hard on the heels of the ‘Open Gardens’ as many of the participants may wish to enter having already prepared their garden. Details will be on our website soon. Despite winning ‘Best Website’ last year we aren’t resting on our laurels. A thorough review is underway dealing with any errant apostrophes and updating content. Get all the news! Read our Chairman’s new year report on the home page.
2nd February Update by Gill Matthews
The bush Echium on the Egret bed by the taxi rank is snug in its winter jacket as a precaution against the frost. Some perennials are more robust and flourish whatever the weather. Some traders in the town have used a mix of perennials with shorter lived plants in their planters. Belinda David hairdressers have tall conical Ilex (Box-leaved Holly) adding height with silver-grey Cineraria and lime green-yellow Hakenchloa grasses setting off the purple, lilac-edged pansies and dark red Cyclamen. The attractive wooden boxes outside Marchand Petit also feature Cyclamen, in white and red, with trailing ivy and taller conifers adding height. Evergreen Clematis climbs around the arched doorway either side of which stand sentinel-like Bay trees. The Viburnums guarding the entrance of the Harbour bookshop are sporting little pinky-white flowers. Fittingly there will be literature themed planting later in the year with roses such as ‘Great Expectations’ and ‘John Betjeman.’ Traders like these are helping to keep our high street attractive for local residents and for the visitors that we need to ensure the town is vibrant and thriving. By the summer we hope that Fore Street will be a riot of colourful planters and hanging baskets.
26th January Update by Gill Matthews
The theme of the talk to Stokenham Garden Society was ‘It isn’t just gardening’! Despite the dreadful evening with rain resembling stair rods there was a good turnout for the presentation. Many pertinent questions were forthcoming from the knowledgeable audience. Much interest was shown in the display which included our fund-raising merchandise. Several cute, sparkly, knitted hedgehogs went to good homes so thank you to the lady who made them for us. Thank you also to the Garden Society for their warm welcome, donation and purchases. After refreshments I was tasked with judging the ‘Stem of the week’ featuring an array of blooms from members’ gardens. It is remarkable what is flowering: colourful Camellia, scented Daphne, variegated Vinca to name but a few. If any groups would like a talk from Kingsbridge in Bloom illustrated with lots of pictures, get in touch via our website. You’ll be surprised what you don’t know about us!
12th January 2018 Update by Gill Matthews
No working party this week as the wind howled and the rain came down in torrents. However, the work of KIB goes on and seven committee members met to discuss various planning issues for 2018. These include some improvements for the display on the cart and the schedule for involving local traders in our campaign. New members are always welcome. Not up for gardening? Could you assist with watering? It is hard to think about watering when we have more rain than we know what to do with but fast forward to the summer and those thirsty baskets and planters will be crying out for a drink. Don’t worry if neither gardening nor watering are your things. You can still help by joining our monthly draw which costs less than a cup of coffee. Funding is an essential component of our work. No money means no Kingsbridge in Bloom!
31st December Update by Gill Matthews
Keep your eyes open as you walk around the town. Believe it or not some yellow daffodils were dancing about in the chilly breeze on the Stone Bed on Christmas Day. Don’t they know it isn’t spring yet? The small garden by the Family Church boasts yet more unseasonal white and yellow daffodils. Various shrubs such as Rosemary, with its little blue flowers, Convolvulus with pinky-white, mini trumpets and Hebes with spikes of white and pale blue are to be seen on the Town Square. There is even a lone, albeit rather second hand, orange poppy on the Hot Bed (although not very hot at the moment!) just about hanging on in there. The spikey Grevillea at the same location is doing rather better with a considerable number of spider-like, pink flowers. Pink and pinky-orange Hesperanthus (part of the Iris family also known as Kaffir Lily) have spread on the Square and are still blooming. The Cornus by Quay House doesn’t need any flowers with its brightly coloured stems. The recently planted Acers behind the TIC may have lost their leaves but their stems are bright with colour too. Tall grasses on the Egret bed sport feathery plumes waving in the breeze and catching the wintry light. Businesses like TQ7 and Lazy Sundays have cheering displays of Cyclamen. The winter flowering Pansies, Wallflowers and Bellis Daisies are making an effort already in the various planters and baskets.
29th December Update by Gill Matthews
A cheery bunch of volunteers skipped gardening duties on the last Wednesday before Christmas. Coffee was accompanied by tasty mince pies so thank you the Creeks End and a volunteer for her home baking. Another volunteer provided some chocolate mints in case we were calorie deficient! A selection of Christmas hats was on display and a little tree on the table was topped appropriately, not with an angel, but a scarecrow. Our chairman said a few words of thanks to the Team for their efforts throughout the year. A volunteer then thanked the chairman for his leadership and we concluded with a Christmas toast. We’ll be back in action in January and look forward to meeting new members who would like to work off the turkey and Christmas pudding. Happy New Year to all!
13th December Update by Gill Matthews
The dress code was full waterproofs. It started off drizzly and developed into a torrential downpour so a small band of hardy perennial gardeners worked until coffee break. The group standing opposite the display bed weren’t resting but appraising the bed from a distance before the final decision is taken regarding next year’s themed display. Watch this space! A litter collection by Quay House yielded a harvest of plastic drinks bottles. The sooner something is done about disposable bottles the better for us, the town and the planet! In the meantime a few steps away is the litter bin. Some frost- damaged half hardy perennials were also pruned. Grass and cheeky dandelions had poked their heads through the gravel by the cart so it wasn’t shepherds, ‘seated on the ground’ but a volunteer carefully removing the intruders. Other recent work includes weeding in the top carpark and the cleaning of the pair of planters by the wall. All the gateway planters have winter bedding and bulbs in place now. There is a large image of the Railway Bridge, an iconic KIB site, now displayed on the wall of Beers Solicitors following the revamp of their offices. We are delighted that this is one of the local scenes chosen in their recent photographic competition. Christmas greetings from all the Team and we hope to see a few new faces after Christmas eager to work off the seasonal excesses.
6th December Update by Gill Matthews
This Wednesday’s work fitted neatly round the sudden rain shower that sent us scuttling for cover and coffee at the Creeks End. A tasty treat of mini stollens had been provided by a thoughtful volunteer. Strimming and mowing was completed at various locations including the Tesco bed and by the roundabout in Cookworthy Road. Gravel by the boulders by the pond was weeded. The raised beds were also weeded and more cutting back undertaken. The trolley boys were backwards and forwards removing the waste material hardly able to keep pace with production. Fuchsia ‘Thalia’on the hot bed in the Square had caught the frost so this was also cut back. The bee-friendly beds had the same tidying treatment as those in the park. Pesky old Couch Grass and Ground Elder were daring to show their heads here so were shown no mercy! A green-fingered volunteer propagated the Fascicularia and Ruscus which were planted behind the TIC. The former will have red bracts with bright blue flowers and the latter striking red berries. A dark-leaved Pittasporum ‘Tom Thumb’ replaced the recently removed Phormium. Pittasporums can grow to tree-like proportions but this one, as its name indicates, only reaches about a metre.
30th November Update by Gill Matthews
Working to keep our town looking good is very rewarding with the satisfaction of a job well done along with the frequently expressed appreciation of residents and visitors alike. An additional bonus is that working party members soon become friends who like working together and getting together socially. One such occasion was our Christmas lunch held at the Cottage Hotel in place of our usual ‘Working Wednesday.’ Thirty six of us, members and their partners, enjoyed a most delicious, three course meal, paid for by the individuals themselves of course. Everyone seemed to scrub up nicely for the occasion with no sign of pale blue, uniform shirts or gardening boots. Some of the ladies were even spotted in skirts and the gentlemen in ties! A big thank you to our ever efficient secretary for her impeccable organisation of this most successful event. Next week we’ll be back to our usual weeding and tidying around town which goes on all year round. If you fancy joining us do get in touch as we are always looking for new recruits who would like to make friends and make a difference.
22nd November Update by Gill Matthews
They’re called leaves but we didn’t! A massive leaf-gathering operation was undertaken on and around the Town Square. A high wind necessitated a firm grip on the bag otherwise the carefully gathered contents ended up back where they started. Another Phormium was removed and a Miscanthus grass placed in the gap. Baby Phormiums, which grow into formidable adults, will be re-homed elsewhere. Grass on the Display Bed was cut and grass by the cart was strimmed and mown. Every ‘last cut of the year’ turns out not to be! Summer bedding was removed from the front of Quay House and the trusty Begonias that have flowered their socks off on the Display Bed have had to go too. Ginger Lilies on the Stone Bed had a trim back. It really is a year round operation to keep our town looking good. When people say to us, ‘There isn’t much to do in winter is there?’ we soon disabuse them of that idea. Wednesday mornings are the visible face of KIB with a major working party but work goes on at the ‘It’s Your Neighbourhood’ projects on other days too. Our committee is always busy behind the scenes with fund-raising, planning, organising, maintaining the website…not to mention writing this column every week!