Snakes and meadows

New volunteers arrive - but they'd better mind where they tread in the grass

The newest volunteer recruitsWell this week has found us busy inducting volunteers; they are going specifically into the woodland areas to help us keep our woodland and arboreturm looking shipshape and Bristol fashion!

Monday saw them trying on boots and uniform for size and having photographs taken for their volunteer passes. Then out into the garden for a tour and then some work. The task on Monday was mulching part of the streamside. The mulch we use is light and fluffy, and easy to spread. Now is an ideal time to do it as the soil is just starting to warm up and there is plenty of moisture to lock in, which will help later on in the season when we have little rain.

Apart from anything else it looks aesthetically pleasing and helps reduce weed growth. Any weeds which do grow are usually just surface ones and are pulled out easily, so mulch is an all-round winner for us. Visitors do ask us if we’ve made the mulch ourselves - we haven’t; but we do use our own compost extensively around the garden and very good it is too.

Snake's head fritillariesThe next group of volunteers that I’m inducting are going to be planting the little plug plants that I ordered last week: snake's head fritillaries and cowslips for the damp meadow areas, and wild garlic and lily of the valley in other meadow areas.

Snake's head fritillaries (Fritillaria meleagris) are so pretty with their chequered flowers hanging gracefully down, some of them are the white form Fritillaria meleagris f. ‘Alba’* and between them they make an eye-catching statement in the garden.

If you have a damp patch in your gardens buy some bulbs (in the green) and plant them now and see if you can get them to colonise your own patch of meadow - there’s nothing prettier!

*Correctly known as Fritillaria meleagris var. unicolor subvar. alba

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