Tuesday, 25 June 2019

Protecting our Insects

In recent years, we have all come to realise the importance of a good balance of nature in a garden. We no longer wish to use pesticides or slug pellets, which are harmful to insects, birds and small mammals.  Bees are in decline and yet we can all play our part to make a genuine difference, by changing the way we garden in even the smallest ways. Beetles, birds and frogs will eat slugs and snails, greenfly on the roses and so on.  We should let this wonderful balance in nature do what it is supposed to, with us gardeners working alongside, not against.

In the Rose Garden, and the shrub beds and long border, we are making a conscious effort to select plants which are of benefit to pollinators. Providing flowering plants from January through  to November so there is always pollen and nectar available. In Autumn we leave plants to die back and  provide shelter and food for wildlife in terms of seeds, rose hips and cover for spiders and insects and caterpillars. If every garden in the country followed these same principles then that would provide a huge resource for our wildlife.

As part of the school syllabus, many primary schools do a study of Minibeasts. We have seen schools visiting the Rose Garden and Quarry as part of this study. With this in mind, our volunteers have created a bug hotel, to help create a place of shelter for insects of all kinds.  You can do this on a smaller scale in your own gardens.  Leave a pile of rotting logs in a quiet corner, create a compost heap, stack some bricks with gaps between for frogs and woodlice and beetles etc.
We hope our bug hotel will be added to with dead hollow stems, fir cones, straw.  Perhaps the schoolchildren can collect materials to add when they visit.  Why not build a bug shelter in your garden, it's great fun for you and just great for insects!

Saturday, 8 June 2019

Clematis Planting

Clematis Anna Louise
As you know, our recently installed double rose arch is now planted with four climbing roses.  These are beginning to wind their way up the sides and are flowering well.

It has always been our intention to introduce clematis to the rose arch.  This is a common practice, as the clematis use the roses to scramble up and it prolongs the season of colour on the arches.

Clematis Elsa Spath

Four clematis have now been planted alongside the roses.  The varieties are two from pruning group 2, called Anna Louise and Elsa Spath. These flower in May and June, then can be lightly pruned and can flower later in September

The other two are group 3 Clematis, Polish Spirit and Etoile Violette. These are both purple varieties which flower in late Summer. To prune these, if you want to, all the stems can be cut down to around 30cms in mid February.  We hope these beautiful clematis will add extra colour and prolong the season of interest when the roses are not in flower.  They will also be of benefit to pollinating insects.
Clematis Polish Spirit
Clematis Etoile Violette

Wednesday, 5 June 2019

Welcome to our new Patron the Earl of Shrewsbury

It is with great delight that we are announcing that his Lordship has kindly accepted to be the Patron of the Friends of the Arno and Oxton Fields.

Charles Henry John Benedict Crofton Chetwynd Chetwynd-Talbot, 22nd Earl of Shrewsbury, 22nd Earl of Waterford, 7th Earl Talbot, 7th Viscount Ingestre, 7th Baron Dynevor DL (born 18 December 1952), styled Viscount Ingestre until 1980, is the premier earl in the Peerage of England as the Earl of Shrewsbury (created 1442), and in the Peerage of Ireland as the Earl of Waterford (1446). He also holds the titles of Earl Talbot and Baron Talbot.

A significant part of the land on which Oxton is situated was part of the Estate of the Earl of Shrewsbury. This has been commemorated in many of the road names, which bear the family names and titles of the various Earls. Hence Alton Road, Shrewsbury Road, Talbot Road, Beresford Road, and Ingestre Road. The oldest pub in the village is called “The Shrewsbury Arms” (for the same reason) and the bar now known as “The Oxton Bar and Grill” was formerly the “Talbot Hotel”.

In 1910, the Earl of Shrewsbury (Major Charles Henry John Chetwynd-Talbot, 20th Earl of Shrewsbury, 5th Earl Talbot and 20th Earl of Waterford (November 13, 1860 - May 7, 1921), was a British peer. ) advised Birkenhead Corporation that he was willing without charge to hand over the deeds of The Arno (and The Little Arno) if the Corporation would agree to plan a 'Recreation Ground' on the site - and maintain it. His offer was accepted and the total cost of converting his disused quarry into a formal park was £1,106 8s 9d (£1,106.43p) - at that included £182 to build the stone wall and provide gates on Storeton Road. But by far the most expensive cost was the laying out of the Rose Garden. At £679 8s 8d (£679.43p) it was at that time,quite a substantial amount of money. The Little Arno, by comparison, cost very little to lay out. The site was the garden of a former house that stood on Mill Hill. This simple little park cost only £108.75p to create.

TheArno was officially opened as a 'Recreation Ground' on Saturday 30th March 1912.

Tuesday, 4 June 2019

Sally Spencer's Memorial Plaque

It was a special occasion on Saturday 1st June, as we gathered to unveil the memorial plaque for our dear, former Membership Secretary Sally Spencer, who sadly passed away last year.  Sally was a much loved part of life at St.Saviour's church, as well as being part of our Friends Committee.
She will always be remembered as a warm and welcoming soul, frequently found offering tea, coffee and cakes, with an encouraging smile.

We are very grateful to  Phil Stafford  of Revive Stone Walls , who set the plaque, which we had purchased,  in the wall by our double rose arch. Phil kindly did this free of charge.
It was lovely to have so many of Sally's friends there for the unveiling, as well as one of Sally's sons Andrew Spencer.
Andrew Spencer
 Our new Membership Secretary Linda Atkinson had bought a beautiful rose called Simply Sally which she planted beside the wall plaque. 

Thanks also to our President Patricia Williams, who gave a short address to those gathered.  The unveiling was followed by refreshments. 

Secret Gardens of Oxton 2019

After nearly a whole week of rain leading up to Sunday 12th May, we were desperate for some sunshine for the event. Luckily, we awoke to clear skies and the weather was gorgeous and sunny all day.
We gathered in the village at 8.30am to set up the plant stall.  People had been incredibly generous with their donations of both plants, gardening books and containers. Our Friends group had also been busy planting up lots of perennials from both the long border in the Rose Garden, and our own gardens.
Linda, Pauline and John.

Our Membership Secretary Linda had set up a separate table to try to enrol new members and raise our profile with the public. She was assisted by her twin sister Pauline and John Booth. 
The plant creche worked very efficiently and our price system of colour coding the pots also made it easy for people to clearly see what they were spending.  Thanks go to Linda who made the potted pricing signs which were intermingled with the plants.  

Our. clear colour coded pricing

There were definitely more plants this year than in previous years and this was reflected in the total sales at the end of the day.

Our Secretary Peter on creche duty.

We took an amazing £1,112. This is a new record for the plant stall.  The Friends of the Arno and Oxton Fields expect to receive £444.  We want to say a huge thank you to all those who made donations and our volunteers who ran the stall on the day.

Sunday, 7 April 2019

Wirral History and Heritage Fair 2019

This year the Fair was held on the 9th March, as usual from 10 until 4pm. Our Friends group set up at Birkenhead Town Hall, in order to raise the Public's awareness of where we are and what we are all about. This is an annual event and we always attend, hoping to inform the general public and to recruit new members and volunteers. Perhaps you have been to this event and seen our stand.

Chairperson Annette Capper

Here are some pictures, if you didn't visit us there on the day. Our Chairperson Annette ready to greet the public.
Our Shed Appeal
The set up of the stand.

The shed appeal is to try and bring in funds to reinstate the old gardeners' shed, which needs a new roof, guttering so we can collect rainwater to use when planting in the long border, electricity so that we can make hot drinks for volunteers and hold more events in the Arno Rose Garden and water for a toilet and hand washing facilities.  This shed would also provide somewhere to store a wheelbarrow and some old tools. At present we have to bring containers of water and all tools each time we work in the Rose Garden.  We hope this shed will enable us to offer more social events within the garden too, such as strawberry cream teas in the Summer.

Spring Litter Pick 2019

On Saturday 6th April the Friends met at the bottom of Duck Pond Lane at 10am.  Gloves, green sacks and litter pickers were collected and then we set off to collect as much rubbish as we could find.  The first ever litter pick we carried out brought in about 40 sacks. We have noticed a significant drop in the amount left on the Oxton Fields, however, the Quarry area still seems to be a problem.

Usually this Spring litter pick is less than in September when everyone has been spending more time on the fields over the Summer months. Youths tend to gather by the old sundial and Quarry where we still collect a large number of drink cans and bottles, generally thrown into the undergrowth which is far more difficult to reach. Sadly we feel that in those cases, extra litter bins would make little if no difference!
By carrying out these regular litter picks , we can also keep an eye on the furthest ends of the Fields. Fly tipping is quite common, so we can then notify the Council to remove larger items of rubbish.  Here in the photo you can see just how much rubbish we removed in two hours.