13th July Update by Gill Matthews
Volunteers made another school visit, this time to Stokenham Primary. Certificates were presented to the younger children who entered the Art Competition. The skills shown using the difficult medium of paint were very impressive. The ‘It’s your Neighbourhood’ volunteers have also been hard at work getting their features up to scratch and keeping them watered. A new sign by the Schooner has the most interesting detail about the creative use of planting this year. Red Salvias, blue Campanula and white Edodiums represent the British shipping industry while the officers and crew are the red Marigolds at the bows. Why not walk along the Embankment to read the rest. The open nature of the structure makes it especially challenging to keep watered. Thank you Heads Estate Agents for the loan of the empty shop by the Bus Station. The display boards have now been removed to prepare for judging day rapidly approaching on Monday 16th. The Team has been working flat out and the town is looking better than ever. You can help too! Pick up some litter, remove weeds from the shop front, deadhead and tidy up any of your baskets or planters. Kingsbridge will be ready to wow the judges!
6th July Update by Gill Matthews
The ‘Watering can shuttle’ was taking place on the Square today. No, it isn’t a new dance craze! Relays of volunteers were applying canfuls of water to keep the plants hanging on in there until we get some rain. A capful of tomato feed was also added to give them a boost. The two bowsers were trundling up and down too topping up the reservoirs on the baskets and planters. The volunteer on his knees wasn’t praying for rain but painstakingly removing the weeds around the trees. The usual dead-heading and weeding went on of course. Somehow the weeds always seem to grow even though it is so dry! A new donated barrel planter in Cookworthy Road was planted up in this year’s theme colours. Earlier in the week the semi-circular blue bench by the Egret Bed was painted. Hanging baskets have also been removed. No they weren’t stolen! The posts have been painted in black gloss which looks less industrial than the original silver and merges into the background so the plants are the focus of attention. The posts now match all the re-painted bollards around the Square. Judging day on 16th July is rapidly approaching. We’ll be ready…but we’d like some rain please!
29th June Update by Gill Matthews
Water! Water ! Water! This is the absolute priority now. Volunteers are out every day not just keeping our displays in tip top condition but preventing them actually dying of thirst in the fierce sun. If you can help please get in touch. Certificates were presented to the children at Kingsbridge Primary who produced some lovely art work on the theme of ‘It’s a Bugs Life’. The winning painting has been sent to SW in Bloom to represent the Kingsbridge area. A new rail feature has been installed at the Railway Bridge thanks to the hard work of six men who laboured away in the heat. Sleepers were laid on shingle then the rails bolted to ‘shoes’. More shingle infill completed this heavy job. Around the town yet more plants were put in to hopefully bring us up to regional and national gold standard. On the Town Square these included: Gaura ‘Belleza Pink’, Heuchera ‘Palace Purple’, Gazania ‘Sunbather’ in red and yellow with Dahlia ‘Sunshine’ a bright orange. Beds in the park gained: white Lavatera, white/pink cosmos, Salvias, Penstemon ‘Heavenly Blue and white Fuchsias and ‘Little Dorrit’ Sunflowers. On the Embankment the bee-friendly beds received: Scabious ‘Blue Note’, white daisy Leucanthamum and a selection of Thymes. Visit our plant stall on Sat 28th July (end of fair Week) when the children’s ‘Garden in a Novelty Container’ competition will be taking place too.
13th June Update by Gill Matthews
The volunteers in the Recreation Ground on their hands and knees weren’t actually praying for rain but weeding the slabs by the pond. A keen volunteer was even working with one arm in a sling. Somehow Kingsbridge keeps missing that desperately needed precipitation so the bowsers are out every day keeping the plants alive and the soil from turning to dust or ‘concrete’. Dwarf sunflowers, tall Cosmos and a climbing Golden Hop were added to the Café Bed. The schooner got more compost, some plant food and additional Marigolds for colour with Sempervivums filling the gaps. The finishing touch was a layer of gravel. Fresh ‘Dorset Flint’ gravel was also added to the Egret Bed. A dumpy bag full was craned into position ready for spreading, an easier task than shovelling it from a road level wheelbarrow. Additional plants including Cosmos, white Japanese Anemones and dwarf Sunflowers, went into the Stone Bed. The Hebes propagated by our green-fingered propagation coordinator are just coming into flower. This whole bed has benefitted from the gradual introduction of a greater range of plants adding more colour and year round interest. Handsome planters in Great Western Rail brown have been planted with Coleus and Geraniums to enhance the KDLR ‘little train’ station on the Embankment. New sponsor boards went up acknowledging this vital contribution. No money would mean no Kingsbridge in Bloom!
6th June Update by Gill Matthews
The tornado Team has been tearing round the town all week again! Archive photographs have been installed at key points giving a fascinating ‘then and now’ perspective. Preparation of the Display bed and the new ‘Torbay Palm Bed’ by the shelter took several days. Massed Begonias: ‘Heaven White’ and ‘Heaven Red’, were planted by the Torbay Palm along with Eucomis (the Pineapple Lily) and a backdrop of Canna Lilies. A dense border of Begonias were added round the Hay Cart border with Scaevola, Helichrysum, Fuchsias and Cordylines to the planter; sun back-lighting the Cordylines accentuating the leaf colour. Painting of the embankment boxes was completed with cones in the road and an alert, high vis-jacketed lookout to ensure the safety of the volunteers. The children’s art work from Stokenham and Kingsbridge Primary Schools was judged by Emily and Jane Price from the Mayne Gallery. What a tough job with such a high standard! All the award winners’ work is on view in the Children’s library. This year’s Display Bed feature was installed. Tall vibrant poppy sculptures are the stars of the show here with yet more Begonias adding colour and forming poppy shapes; the dark centre created with ‘black’ grass Ophiopogon. A fun activity for children/grandchildren is the ‘Garden in a Novelty Container’ competition. Details on the website or at the TIC.
30th May Update by Gill Matthews
What a whirlwind of activity over the last two weeks! Volunteers were out on several days removing Spring bedding and replacing with Summer at numerous locations. The new hay cart planter now has vibrant red Geraniums in the top tier and silver-grey Cineraria in the bottom. The baskets and planters for the town and the traders all arrived. Evocatively named plants used include: Ipomoea ‘Solar Power Green and ‘Solar Power Black’, Ivy Leaf Geranium ‘Rose Lilac’, Begonia ‘Illumination’ and fan-flowered Scavola ‘White Print’. The schooner beach-themed planting is in full flower and yet more colour is in place with bright yellow French Marigolds on the deck. Watering has begun in earnest, even in the rain, bizarre though it seems. It is vital to keep the reservoirs topped up as the wind and sun can quickly dry out the compost. The Turret beds on the Embankment have been completely re-designed by local nursery ‘Coastal Hedging’ who have sponsored and planted one. The other two were then match planted by us. Keeping on top of maintenance as well as gardening is an ongoing task. The Embankment boxes have been pains-takingly sanded down then several coats of paint and varnish applied. After a final proof reading the portfolio has gone to press ready to send off and impress the RHS judges. Chelsea is the major event in the horticultural calendar closely followed by the Kingsbridge in Bloom judging!
25th May Update by Gill Matthews
There was a great deal of work to do and fortunately a good turnout of volunteers. A team of strong men and a trailer got our new, specially constructed planter into position on the hay cart ready for an even bigger and brighter display. The planting on the grass by Quay House is developing nicely for all year round colour that was planned last year. It features Cornus, Tree Peony, Weigela, Phygelius and Photinia. A Golden Lonicera and a privet were added along with Pelagoniums for Summer impact. Poppy seeds were also sown and the edges tidied. The cascade by the TIC was emptied and levelled. Sedums and bulbs were saved and those gorgeous pansies given away to passers-by. Newspapers were provided as wrapping to avoid using plastic. A donated Palm went into the TIC bed and forty Antirrhinums, all grown from seed, were planted in the park. The Hot Bed received orange-flowered Cannas and a Crinodendron which bears red, lantern flowers. Compost was dug into the Turrets on the Embankment. Watering has moved right up the agenda with the warmer weather and our bowser was in action filling reservoirs on the planters. Start thinking of ideas for the free-to-enter, children’s ‘Garden in a Novelty Container’ competition in July-details at the TIC and on our website.
18th May Update by Gill Matthews
It has been a busy week for Bloomers with work on many days not just ‘Working Party Wednesday’. Volunteers were at Potters Nursery replacing the wicks and matting in the reservoir baskets and planting them up. The hard work preparing for our plant stall in the Museum garden was rewarded with lovely weather and an enjoyable social occasion while raising some useful funds. Thanks to the Museum for organising this event. Thanks also to the Kingsbridge Masonic Lodge. Four volunteers attended a presentation, hosted by the Ashburton Arms, where cheques were presented to eight charities. We are delighted to be one of the recipients. We always try to be as environmentally friendly as possible. A growing number of volunteers bring along a reusable cup for coffee break. Did you know that the takeaway cups in the park café are now compostable? Yes even the corn starch lid! Don’t be misled. ‘Bio-degradable’ isn’t the same as ‘compostable’. Children enjoyed sowing sunflower seeds in the park ready for the sunflower growing competition. Information on ‘Hedgehog Awareness’ was on display. Gardening tasks included work on the bee friendly beds, the raised beds in the park and weeding under the benches on the Town Square. After discussion the final decisions were made about designs for a ‘Wow factor’ feature bed by the shelter. A ‘Learn Devon’ photographic group was in the park taking pictures while we were working. The Spring flowers were delayed by the bad weather and are still looking stunning. However we will be removing them next week ready for the summer planting. Bulbs and Sedums will be reused but there will be a free give-away of pansies by the TIC.
11th May Update by Gill Matthews
We are delighted that a new member Alison has joined the Team. She got stuck in removing unwanted Plantains from the meadow seeds, already peeping through, sown by the Beavers at Brittons Field. Little plugs of Ox Eye Daisies were added to these areas. Other work at this site included the removal of long brambles and nettles which could catch the unwary visitor. Plenty still remains for the wildlife too. Hedge trimmers helped us create ‘windows’ through the hedge so the Estuary views can be enjoyed especially the birdlife at low tide. After initial rain the sun came out and we enjoyed the musical accompaniment of a blackbird and a robin while resting at the picnic benches under which we had carefully weeded. The solution to rapidly melting chocolate biscuits at coffee time was to eat them quickly! Additional help from local neighbours in maintaining Brittons Field would be most welcome. In town preparation of the Display Bed included weeding, marking out and expanding the frame of Sedums ready for planting up this year’s exciting new feature. Cleaning of the Embankment Boxes and rubbing down of the rims got underway ready for varnishing. You may have noticed the lovely floral displays outside Busby and Fox. Two Acers, donated by the owner, were planted behind the TIC and are coming into leaf now so thanks for those. Josh Watson brought along the final version of his garden tool trolley design which gets top marks from us and hopefully his A level assessors too.
4th May Update by Gill Matthews
The rain and sun have really encouraged the weeds so work went on at various locations: by the Cart, the Stone Bed, Town Square Beds and the Wall Bed behind the café in the park. An amazing, quirky herb planter has been constructed and installed on the replanted café bed where it sits snuggly in the corner. The Turret Beds on the Embankment were cleared ready for the some different and more sustainable planting. Fore Street baskets came down ready for the summer planting at the start of May. Two volunteers went along to the inaugural meeting of SHAW (South Hams Area Wellbeing) which aims to promote the health benefits of working in the voluntary sector. A thank you goes to Buckland-Tout-Saints Parish Council for their donations: one financial and one of cake for the working party. Our presentation at their meeting was met with surprise at the range of our activities. Get in touch if your group would like an illustrated talk entitled, ‘It isn’t just gardening!’ The Beaver Cubs have done their usual enthusiastic sowing of meadow seeds at Brittons Field.Dates to note: Plant Sale on Sat 5th May at the Museum, Children’s Sunflower competition at the park on Sun 6th May at 11am, Garden Competition closing date is 4th June. Get thinking caps on for the children’s ‘Garden in a Novelty Container’ competition in Fair Week.
27th April Update by Gill Matthews
Sunglasses and sun hats were in evidence with volunteers peeling off their sweaters as the sun made another appearance. Highlight of the day was the presentation of a £250 cheque from the Boat Club so a big thankyou for that. We’ve been busy spending money too with lovely new plants for various locations in the park. Pink Saxifrages and Lewisias along with blue, bell-flowered Campanula will add colour to the Plastic Company’s planter. The blue bed gained some Caryopteris ‘Heavenly blue’, recycled true Geraniums and lilac, ‘Purple Beauty’ Phlox. Pink true Geraniums and Bergenias went into the new Rainbow Bed which is filling out nicely with the border of little Bellis Daisies looking very perky. Thanks to sponsorship from the U3A we are getting stuck into the Café bed refurbishment with the addition of more bee-friendly plants including vivid orange Geums and Lantana, white pink-centred Lavertera also pinky-white Gaura. Two variaties of Cistus, a pink and a white replaced some of the plants lost to the cold on the Embankment. The Town Square benefitted from new orange Gazanias and plum coloured, white-throated Pentstamons. There were deep red Osteospermums for the Quay House Bed and sunny yellow Euryops for the TIC Bed. More investigations of the mysterious pond pump system were carried out so it isn’t a mystery any more! Repairs to the basket brackets on the toilets and another coat of paint on the turrets concluded a successful day’s work.
20th April Update by Gill Matthews
TSunshine and cake-the perfect recipe for an enjoyable working party! Thank you to the lady who provided the delicious cake. Meadow seeds were sown at the top of Cookworthy Road, by Ilbert Road and in the park. Thanks to the Kingsbridge Hire Centre for the loan of the rotovator for preparing the sites. The Tesco bed was so soggy after the previous night’s torrential rain that it was completed later in the week. Bishop of Llandaff Dahlias and Peacock Orchids went into the Café Bed. An interesting newcomer to the herb bed was the Australian Mint Bush Prostanthera Variagata, an aromatic plant with attractive, variagated leaves and tiny lilac flowers. The little succulents on the schooner had a trim to encourage them bush up. Numerous other tasks undertaken during the week included positioning the rest of the sleepers round the Rainbow Bed, painting the concrete ‘turrets’ to match the Embankment boxes, investigating the pump in the pond, tidying the equipment in the garage, taking Spring pictures for the website, more work on the portfolio and writing this column of course! Don’t forget the plant sale at The Museum, where volunteers have been sprucing up the garden, on Sat 5th May at 10am. Plant donations and customers are most welcome. The all- important SW in Bloom judging of the town is on Mon 16th July.
13th April Update by Gill Matthews
Today’s working party included an assessment of the damage caused by the exceptionally bad weather we have experienced this year with prolonged cold and wet. Despite its winter jacket the Bush Echium on the Egret bed has sadly succumbed. Considerable frost damage to the Loropetallum and the Ceonothus in the Embankment Beds may not be terminal. It is a question of wait and see if any new shoots decide to venture forth then the damaged parts can be pruned out. The refurbishment of the Café Bed has already begun with the addition of Hebes and Sweet Williams. A new banner has arrived from the RHS to acknowledge our selection representing small towns from the South West in the Britain in Bloom national event. Two volunteers visited local printer Nick Walker to prepare an interesting historical feature to complement our displays this year. Two other volunteers were at Potters Nursery discussing the final orders for basket and planters ordered by community minded traders to enhance Fore Street. These will be delivered when all risk of frost is over at the end of May.
6th April Update by Gill Matthews
The sun was out as well as a large number of volunteers. Vibrant, yellow daffodils in the baskets are looking bright and Eastery so after a tidy up the baskets were moved to Fore Street to complement the Easter displays in the shop windows. The cafe bed in the park was dug over and any casualties of the cold weather removed. Major replanting of this area will see herbs at one end and colourful, bee-friendly plants at the other. Not only is the daffodil bank looking stunning after the snow but the groups of blue hyacinths on the raised bed look and smell gorgeous. The raised beds, the Embankment boxes, the concrete planter and the barrels were all treated to a tidy up and dead heading. The cart’s winter coat was removed after bailing out the pond on the top. Our successful children’s art competition will be featuring in the next edition of the SW in Bloom magazine. More progress has been made on the portfolio with careful selection of photographs to showcase our year round work. There is still time to enter the Garden Competition. Find details on our website or at the TIC.
30th March Update by Gill Matthews
Well we all survived the snow. How did the plants do? The larger varieties of daffodils have suffered a bit but the little Tete a Tetes are generally bouncing back albeit with a few casualties. The Agave by the TIC really doesn’t like the combination of cold and wet so is hiding in a temporary bag awaiting some sunshine. We can all empathise with that sentiment! Pink and red Camellias in the park are just coming out and vibrant, blue Hyacinths are arranged in groups on the raised beds. Trampling on soggy soil isn’t good horticultural practice so other tasks were undertaken this week. The detailed, weekly ‘To do’ plan is in its final stages preparing already for the run up to the two lots of judging in July and August. The new, two tier planter for the cart is now under construction. The two height levels will really show off the planting. A second portfolio planning meeting was held with a video conference on Skype. Tasks have been allocated for the next session to be squeezed in before family commitments at Easter. There’s nothing like a tight deadline to focus the mind! Now the snow has gone it is time to consider entering the Garden Competition. Details are on our website and at the TIC.
23rd March Update by Gill Matthews
The maintenance team certainly weren’t sleeping on the job but were ‘sleepering’ again! Thank you Simon for donating additional sleepers used to complete the bed protection border at Quay House. The first half of this installation came into its own shortly after it was done last week. A driver’s potentially flower-crushing manoeuvre was thwarted by the very solid barrier. Our green-fingered propagation coordinator brought along some little, variegated Euonymus plants which joined the larger specimens in the cart border. These useful plants will more-or-less look after themselves. Lavertia has been thriving on the ‘Hot Bed’ and getting rather bossy so was relocated to Quay House Bed to fill a gap there. Basket and planter orders, from local traders keen to make Fore Street attractive, are nearly complete. A few follow up visits today just about completed this task. The orders will be planted up and grown on in the polytunnel at Potters Nursery so they arrive in prime condition at the end of May. Cold, sleety rain saw us scuttling to the Creeks End for shelter and coffee. The working party continued in the warm and dry with the formulation of a week-by-week plan of action coordinating planting and maintenance jobs. A date to note in your diary is the plant sale at the Museum on Sat 5th May.
16th March Update by Gill Matthews
The display of daffodils by Quay House is looking fabulous. It should remain like this rather better now as some sleepers have been positioned to create a protective border round the bed preventing cars from reversing over it. This is the third lot of sleepers recently installed. We’ll soon have more than Russian intelligence! Some donated pink-flowered Bergenia and pale pink, perennial Geraniums were also added filling it out nicely with an increased variety of planting. Less space for the weeds is always a good plan. Let us know if you are removing some plants and we may be able to make use of them if they’re suitable. Penstemons and Phygelus were cut back on the ‘Hot Bed’ and tough, little, variegated Euonymus relocated to the hay cart border. The cart cover needed a bail out after the snow melt. Volunteers are buzzing up and down Fore Street collecting orders from traders for baskets and planters. Thank you to all the local businesses who are supporting our efforts. The Kingsbridge in Bloom Garden competition, a fun and inclusive event with range of categories, is now open to entries which must be in by 4th June Details are on our website and in the TIC. Proud of your pot or plot? Give it a go!
9th March Update by Gill Matthews
All that talk of Spring springing was a little premature last week. Who’d have thought there would be several centimetres of snow all over the town with more arriving as the morning wore on? A handful of volunteers gathered for coffee while most stayed at home reading their gardening magazines! Local designer Jenn Cooper came along to discuss ideas for a possible redesign of our souvenir tea towel which is a steady fund-raiser. Her lovely retro style posters are on display in the TIC. Unfortunately our discussion was curtailed by a call from the school as the children were all being sent home. The display by the Bus Station has already yielded results with someone wishing to join the working parties as well as assist with watering. For Kingsbridge in Bloom to have a viable future we always need to be recruiting new volunteers. With continual cuts in public services we have taken on the maintenance of more beds. The planting coordinator has compiled a most comprehensive report detailing the changes and plans for all the beds and planters that we look after..