Archive for the ‘Volunteering’ Category

Back at Benthall Hall on the day of the Cosford Air Show. Would we see any of the planes? But it was not a day for reaching up into trees, eyes on the sky. No, we were down on the ground, weeding brick paths and gravel in the rear courtyard (and by the church and lychgate). These were the main tasks of the day.

The other tasks (which you could stretch the description ‘some general gardening tasks’ to cover, but were not so photogenic) were clearing up some of debris from the last visit, and turning the compost heaps.

So, back to the courtyard … cake o’clock on the tea terrace – a delicious lemon/lime cake and a lovely mug of tea. Then back to work – looking like an army of ants!

Following lunch on the lawn in the kitchen garden, back to those bricks … or the compost heaps, from where we could see the smoke trails of the Red Arrows – away in the distance over Cosford.

The working group shrank as the Committee meeting started on the family terrace – but we didn’t let the side down, and finished with excellent results.

So to the BBQ treat, as the threatened rain held off!

And yes … some of the Air Show planes (including the Spitfire) came overhead just as we were winding up…and as menacing grey clouds circled.

At the end of a long day and lots of backbreaking work, a lazy evening? Not me! I got side-tracked by my own front garden and finally put the tools away as the fading light defeated me around 10pm.

Wow, what a day! Thanks everyone.

Mags

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Head Gardener Cat nearly swooned as the group gathered at Wightwick on Sunday….”there are so many of you”.. she was heard to whisper. Luckily there were two tasks for us: with one group pruning high-reaching rhododendron and the other group creating a ‘dead hedge’ around the burn site.

There’s a wider plan to gradually thin and improve the rhodi’ in the gardens at Wightwick and it’s certainly working well, as today’s patch was left looking much tidier with daylight able to get through to the trunks to encourage strong new growth.  This will in turn produce lovely flowers at a height which visitors can best enjoy.

Before work started on the ‘dead hedge’ we were shown some reference examples to aim at.  So we pulled out all the stops, trimming and layering, with hazel stakes to hold it all together. So why build this hedge? A recent survey has revealed that a badger sett has been found on the burn site. In fact, Wightwick is a bit of a ‘des-res’ for badgers with numerous families, who obviously want to share in the high standard of living which Wightwick and nearby Tettenhall provide. It must be the post-code too! The hedge, comprising cut green matter, will deter humans and screen the patch which at times can look a little like work-in-progress.  The burn site may be re-located in future, but in the meantime the badgers clearly like a little central-heating!

We were spoilt for choice on the cake front – even if workday leader Matthew decided there weren’t enough breaks to deveavour it all (well almost!) – thanks to all.  With Wightwick’s victoria sponge – and perhaps another workday first – new volunteer Leela came bearing a lovely cappuccino cake – you can come again!  Oh yes, and the dead hedge passed inspection too!!

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Our EVENTS page has been updated with new dates for your diary.

If you have volunteered with us before…., then you know how to book onto the workdays.

If you’re interested to volunteer with us for the first time…., then please contact us for more info – just pop over to our CONTACTS PAGE and send us your details so our web fairy can put you in touch with us.

In the meantime, don’t forget that we are also on Facebook.

Just click the Facebook link in the sidebar to read recent workday reports and see more pictures (don’t worry, you don’t have to have a Facebook account to read the updates!).

Walcot Woods

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There has been a lot to celebrate this year. On the work front, the group achieved impressive results for hours worked and sites visited. You can read more about  it here.

One of the best things about the group is that it welcomes volunteers of all ages. We have families who bring toddling toddlers right through to our more senior members, one of whom celebrated his 70th birthday this year. In fact, this year saw significant birthdays for many group members. The photograph above shows those celebrating their 30th, 40th, 50th, 60th and 70th birthdays – I’ll leave you to decide which is which! SSNTV group members work together as a team on our workdays and there is no doubt that the strength of the team is in the diversity of its members, young and old.

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The Weir, Hereford, Saturday 22nd October

It has been a while since we visited The Weir, May 7th to be exact. It is a real pleasure to work at this location, particularly so this weekend as we had such lovely weather.

Our task was to cut back overgrown buddleia and rosemary willow. The idea was that we would uncover the old pig sty. We were wondering if this would be possible as we couldn’t see a pig sty – as you can see from the ‘after’ pic, the pig sty was there and we worked hard to reveal it from the undergrowth.

We enjoyed working with NT gardener Ned. He always has something interesting to show us in the garden. This time it was a fabulous selection of pumpkins and squash of all shapes and sizes and an oddly shaped vegetable – which turned out to be a south american cucumber of the Achocha family, known as the ‘Fat Baby’. Also growing there was a close relative of the Fat Baby – the exploding cucumber, Latin name Cyclanthera Explodens.

 

 

 

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Wenlock Edge, old quarry, Friday 7th to Sunday 9th October

Earlier in the year, a discussion took place with NT Ranger Chris – what would be better than a workday at Wenlock Edge? The answer? Three workdays at Wenlock Edge! And so the group found themselves booked in for a three day working weekend, working at a new part of the site. The location was an old limestone quarry which has long since ceased production. The National Trust recently took over management of the site. It had become overgrown with hawthorn and blackthorn hence badly in need of some volunteer action.

There is a variety of things that make the group happy: – good weather, chunky trees to chop, a bonfire, lots of cake. All of these were available in abundance!

Some of the group stayed overnight at an NT holiday cottage near Dudmaston. Ron tested his culinary skills on Friday evening, providing the group with a delicious spaghetti dish. Sheila helped out by creating an apple crumble, using apples provided by Ron from his own garden. This was washed down with a fine selection of ales, or a glass or two of homemade wine – “Rhubarb Ruin”. On the Saturday evening, the overnighters ventured into Bridgnorth for a meal in a local bistro – I am sure it wasn’t as good as Ron and Sheila’s tasty creations on Friday.

The photos don’t do justice to the extent of work completed over the weekend. We hope to be back working at this site sometime before Christmas so if you want to see it, keep an eye on our programme of workdays and come out and join us.

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Dudmaston Estate, Sunday/Monday 28th/29th August

Bank Holiday weekend….what to do? Relax? Take it easy? Read a mind improving book or 3? No, No, No! What you really want to do is get up early, drive to Dudmaston for a 9am start, pull out lots of rhodis and BURN THEM!!!! Then on day 2: repeat.

And so it was that 8 of us met NT Area Ranger Mike Annis at the Dudmaston Estate Yard in Shropshire at 9am on Bank Holiday Sunday. From there it was a short drive to the work site which was, if you are familiar with the estate, between the big pool and the main road. Our workday leader quickly got a fire started and the rest of the group soon made good progress on clearing the area of unwanted rhodis. If possible, we rip the rhodis out by the root. The aim is to prevent any regrowth.

Mike tells us that, in the past, this area was planted with colourful specimen rhodis and azaleas and would have been quite a pleasant walk. In the long term, it would be good to replant the walk for the benefit of visitors.

While some of the group seemed to have enough energy to continue on into the evening….it was decided to call it a day at 4pm. A small amount of clearance work remained to be done and we made a note to finish that work on the following morning before moving to another nearby site.

Sunday morning, early again (groan!). We finished work on site No.1 and sent workday leader Ron over to site No.2 to start a new fire. The group (6 of us today) worked hard to clear rhodis at the new site. Ron kept us motivated by feeding us chocolate-fridge-cake. Just when we think that the end of the rhodis is in sight…we see more in the distance. This is not a bad thing – we need some future work to look forward to.

We were fortunate with weather on both days as it stayed dry throughout.

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