Tuesday, 20 June 2017

The Secret Gardens of Oxton 2017

Our Secretary Peter de Figueiredo
This year The Friends of the Arno and Oxton Fields took on the responsibility of organising and running the plant stall for the Secret Gardens of Oxton event.

We had a great many plant donations from local residents, together with some plant divisions from the long border of the Arno rose garden. Some of our members also grew plants from seed for the stall.

The weather was mostly sunny and warm on Sunday 14th May. We arrived at 8am to set up the stand. Alison Clarke, head of our gardening group, was a little concerned there would not be enough plants but many people came in cars to drop off trays of plants for the stall. We needn't have worried.

Alison Clarke (left)

We started to sell at 10am when the event began and during the first few hours we were rushed off our feet. People were keen to see what was on offer and were very generous.

By the end of the day nearly all the plants had been sold. We were informed a few days after the event that the stall had raised an impressive £974!

Monday, 13 March 2017

Phase 4 Rose Planting.

Phase 4 of our rose planting program was arranged for Saturday 4th March. Despite the weather forecast predicting rain, it was a beautiful sunny morning, albeit rather chilly.

Many volunteers arrived at ten am, spades at the ready.  There were 420 bare- root rose bushes to be planted into four large beds. The ground was heavy after the previous week's rain, but we were keen to make good progress while the sun was shining.
In the picture to the left we were busy planting up the first bed with a variety called Esperanza, a coral pink shrub rose. Amazingly, after only one hour this bed was complete.This called for a tea break, served by our membership secretary Sally.

We worked efficiently, some volunteers digging and planting while others dipped the roses in a solution containing Rootgrow, to help establish a good root system and give the roses a head start.

The second bed took just over an hour to finish planting up. This bed was a pearl pink coloured rose called Bloom of Ruth.

At lunch time many of the volunteers had to leave. The cavalry arrived, so to speak, in the form of two Oxton Society members, armed with spades, but still our numbers dwindled to seven. With another two beds remaining to plant and the weather starting to turn, we had a small snack break and then made the decision to carry on, despite the odd rain shower.  The next two rose beds seemed a lot harder, working with heavier clay soil and already tired from the morning's digging.

The third bed now contains saffron yellow coloured roses called Henrietta Barnett.  There were four or five healthy roses already in the bed which were also yellow, so they remained in situ.

Last but not least, the final bed was completed by half past three. This bed is now full of a rich red rose variety called Deep Secret. We were relieved that all the bare- root roses were safely in the ground and we could all go home for a well earned rest!

Monday, 28 November 2016

Storeton Road Tree Planting.

It was 2014 when we had the big tree planting event on the Oxton Fields, with the help of countless enthusiastic volunteers, many of them children. However, since then, lots of the trees were vandalised or succumbed to lack of rain or disease. Only two of the ten larger alder trees which were planted along the Storeton Road side of the fields managed to survive, although they too are looking sickly.
After discussion with Neil Garnett from the Council, we agreed that replacement trees should be planted this November. The Council paid for some of the replacements and the Friends funded the others.

Despite dreadful rain and hailstorms the night before, we met by Rightway on Saturday 19th November to plant the new trees. A mechanical digger had already dug large holes then refilled them a few days earlier, so our task was much easier. The main problem we faced was that the ground was so saturated that our tree holes kept filling with water and mud.
Here you can see our Secretary Peter next to one of the alder trees.               

Perhaps you can see from this picture how muddy it was. We had to leave planting one of the trees as the ground was far too wet nearest to Rightway. Each bare root tree was given a good start with a whole bag of compost, a sturdy stake and tree tie and a protective metal mesh cage, to prevent vandalism or damage of the young tree bark from Council mowers.

This picture shows how large the trees were when they arrived, ready for planting.

The completed row of alder trees. Let us hope that these trees remain healthy and are left alone to grow into beautiful mature specimens for us and future generations to enjoy.

Tuesday, 12 July 2016

Summer Border

The long herbaceous border in the Rose Garden is looking wonderful at the moment. At the top end nearest to the Quarry the pink Phlox and orange Alstromeria are in full bloom. Many of the Geraniums are starting to go over now, only to be replaced by the Sedums and other late Summer flowering perenniels.
 About halfway up the border all the Leucanthemums are opening their bright white daisy flowers. There are huge swathes of them which make a real impact. In contrast you can see this impressive Veronica, its blue flowers standing like candles, which are highly attractive to bees and hoverflies. Nestled close to this is Lychnis Coronaria. The cerise blooms above silver foliage complement the Veronica beautifully.                            

In this photograph you can get a feel for the length of the border; the cerise flowers of the Lychnis Coronaria are punctuating it at intervals. At the back of the border the Philadelphus is arching over with a mass of orange blossom scented white flowers. The Sedum is visible in the foreground.

Sunday, 20 March 2016

Phase 3 Rose Planting

 After lots of hard digging to prepare four large beds for replanting, the Friends gathered in the Rose Garden on Saturday 19th March 2016. All the new bare root roses had been delivered the day before and the weather was ideal. After a dry week the soil was much more pleasant for the task  of replanting up the four rose beds. The roses going in this time were orange roses called Fellowship and white roses called Pride and Prejudice. Also some white roses called Silver 25th Anniversary.

The scouts and other youth groups had prior engagements so it was a real team effort to get all the roses planted. We worked hard and by 11.15 am the first bed was completed. After a short tea break, we cracked on and managed to plant up two more beds before stopping for a late lunch.

Here in the picture on the right  you can see our refreshment table . Some of us used wheelbarrows to pile mushroom compost onto the beds prior to planting, others assisted greatly by dipping the bare root roses in a Miccorrhyzal  
solution before passing them to the diggers as soon as a hole was ready. All this team effort meant quite an efficient system and all four new beds were finished by 3.15pm.

We still had some orange roses spare so decided to plant them in another bed of orange/red roses where there were lots of gaps. Although we were starting to tire, we carried on and all the bare root roses were in the ground by 4.30pm.

Many passers by spoke to us as we worked. One couple joined the Friends group and another young girl walking through handed us a £10 donation towards our Rose Appeal.

Friday, 4 December 2015

Rose Buddies.

As you may be aware, the Friends have launched a rose appeal in order to raise funds to re-stock many of the rose beds. A few weekends ago we carried out phase two of our planting, which means that so far 19 of the 42 rose beds have been planted up with new roses. There is still a lot of work ahead of us, but we are already planning phase three in March of 2016.
One important fact we must not overlook is that our job is not over just because the roses are planted. In order to flower to their full potential and remain healthy, roses do require some maintenance at different times of the year. Pruning early in the year, deadheading during the Summer months and weeding around them.

 It is with this in mind that we are proposing the idea of Rose Buddies.

People who are willing to team up and look after a particular rose bed.The Friends would ensure your rose bed was cleared of weeds to begin with, so this would not require a vast amount of time or effort, and each set of "buddies" could arrange between themselves times suitable to them.
It could just mean bringing secateurs and a bag while taking an evening stroll in the Summer, to deadhead a few roses. It might mean pulling out the odd weed that appears. We can provide advice on pruning and deadheading. You could use it as a quiet time to chat with a friend while tidying your rose bed. You can choose your own buddy, or we could find you one .
If anyone is interested in being a "Rose Buddy" please could you use the contact form on the right.

Saturday, 21 November 2015

Phase Two Rose Planting.

Despite less than ideal weather conditions, the weekend of 14th and 15th November was arranged for the second phase of rose planting.  520 bare-root rose bushes needed to be planted. The Friends had already cleared and prepared five rose beds for replanting. We began work on the two beds adjacent to the central path. The roses for these two beds were red ones called 40th Ruby Wedding Anniversary. Many young volunteers came to help, especially on the Saturday. They were cubs, beavers and scouts from the 64th Birkenhead Sea Scout group, accompanied by their leader.  There was also Emma Murphy, a member of the Viking Explorers, who worked solidly all morning. Another young helper, Liam Roberts-Bica, was volunteering as part of his silver Duke of Edinburgh award.
The weather was rapidly worsening, however, we still had three more beds to plant up.  The Friends had set up a gazebo for shelter and served hot and cold drinks and biscuits to help keep spirits up. The next two beds were to be planted with white roses called 25th Silver Wedding Anniversary.  All the roses had been purchased with money donated to the Friends Rose Appeal. They had come from a company in Buckinghamshire called Chessum Roses. Each bare-root rose had its roots immersed in a solution of Rootgrow, a mycorrhizal fungi, to help them establish quickly and create healthy root systems over the winter. Hopefully this will get them off to a flying start come next Spring.
Four beds were completed by half past one on Saturday. It was raining quite heavily at this point so we decided to call it a day and continue on the Sunday.

Luckily Sunday morning was dry. Many of us returned to the Rose Garden to plant up the remaining roses. These were also white, a strongly scented variety called Margaret Merril. We had fewer volunteers on the Sunday, but a lady from the allotments on Storeton Road came to help us, together with her daughter and granddaughters, who were a wonderful help dunking the roses and passing them to the hole diggers. With such efficiency, the fifth rose bed was completed in just over an hour and we could head off home for a well deserved rest. A huge thank you to all those who braved the cold and wet, showing great enthusiasm, to help plant all 520 new rose bushes.