St Mark's Mansfield


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The return of the orchids!

So much has happened in the garden since my last blog I hardly know where to start, but I guess I should begin with the orchids.

 

The precious bee orchids have returned to St Mark’s as they do each June, some blooming in the meadow under the alder tree and others in the strip of rough grass near the church wall.   Also the ‘common’ spotted orchid that accidentally got the chop last year has bravely put in another appearance.

There have been masses of spectacular purple orchids in bloom on Oakham Nature Reserve (just off Bleakhills Lane behind the fishing lakes on Sheepbridge Lane).  Do take a short stroll and enjoy the beautiful wildflower meadow.   We’re so fortunate to have this gem on our doorstep and to have local groups such as Maun Conservation to protect and cherish them.

 

 

Then there was the Garden Party when our doors and garden gates were open to welcome friends and neighbours in our community.  It was a joyful occasion which instigated new relationships and conversations. 

Make sure you save the date (15 June) for next year – it WILL happen again and if you weren’t able to get involved this time please let us have your ideas and thoughts for the future.

 

 

In this hot weather it’s hard to keep everything alive.   If you have a spare moment any time please grab a watering can and give a drink to any plant that looks a bit thirsty!   Your reward will be in the produce that’s on its way.   We’ve already enjoyed the strawberries and there are broad beans ready, currants ripening, gooseberries made into lovely gooseberry mint jelly (for sale this coming Sunday), apples and medlars on the trees and a feast of flowers for the eyes.

 

 

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Teddy Bear Paw Hunt

The Community Garden provided a lovely sunny backdrop for a visit from the Under Fives Group yesterday afternoon.   Liz had hidden teddy bear paw prints around the garden and the children (and parents) collected them in paper bags.   All the children were presented with some bubbles as a reward!

On such occasions I realise why we cultivate this space in our church grounds.   It’s a place of welcome and nurture, a place to explore and experience the natural world.   There’s so much happening in the garden at the moment; flowers bursting open, vegetable plants including broad beans, runner beans, butternut squash, sweetcorn to name but a few and green strawberries forming where the flowers were.   We’ve also just planted a fig, blueberry and bay purchased with the token we were given by the RHS last summer.   Come and explore whenever you like and maybe pick a bunch of herbs you can use for flavouring or some sticks of rhubarb to put in a crumble …..

Caring for children with all their innocence and freshness and for our precious earth with all it generosity, is key to the future of humanity and we have such an opportunity to do both these things through our Community Garden.   I get very excited when I hear that Under Fives children, supported by their parents, are caring for the seeds they planted on a Tuesday afternoon, or that a couple of 8 year old boys have each taken a tomato plant to grow at home and will be thrilled if they succeed in producing just one tomato!   We’ve shared sunflower plants with neighbours in the flats behind the Community Garden and an African friend has inspired me to sow callaloo, a Caribbean vegetable which is a cross between watercress and spinach.

Seeds of change and roots of community and friendship are spreading wider, stronger and deeper from our small patch around the tarmac.


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Snake’s head fritillary

WP_20180415_09_05_43_ProAgainst the backdrop of the warm stone church wall, this tableau appears like a small miracle each year in April.

Fritillaria meleagris is a Eurasian species of flowering plant in the lily family.   Its common names include snake’s head fritillary, snake’s head (the original English name), chess flower, frog-cup, guinea-hen flower, leper lily (because its shape resembled the bell once carried by lepers), Lazarus bell, chequered daffodil, drooping tulip or, in northern Europe, simply fritillary.   What a star!

Why not take a walk around the front of the church and see what’s coming up through the grass?   There’s never a dull moment – it’s like a stage where the players are constantly changing.   Don’t miss the show – it doesn’t cost a thing!


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Location, location!

 

coal tit

The British Trust for Ornothology’s National Nest Box Week (14-21 February) has prompted us to add  a new bird box in the Community Garden.   John O’Leary has skilfully made and put up a lovely box for coal tits and blue tits on the wall near to the greenhouse and I’m sure it will attract some of the feathered friends who are already using our bird feeders.   The other nest box, constructed and kindly donated by Colin from the Maun Conservation Group, was put up by Alan on the alder tree in the wild meadow at the front of church last autumn.   Keep an eye out for any new visitors to these ‘des res’!

We also have a smart Belfast sink installed in the newly designated wildlife corner beside the shed. Generously donated by Judith and transported by Isobel’s kind (and strong!) neighbour, Mark, this is potentially an ideal residence for any amphibians or insects looking for a watery home!   We’re anxiously waiting to see if Sheila’s imaginative seal on the plughole (‘Pringles’ lid and bath sealant) will hold water!

A beautiful Easter garden is being created in the Memorial Garden, ready for contributions of painted stones to pave the way to the Cross.   Everyone is invited to decorate a stone with a colour, pattern, words, pictures – anything that they would like to offer or ask forgiveness for at this very special time in the church’s year.   We’re really happy that children from Sutton Road School will bring their decorated pebbles during Holy Week.

It’s very exciting that the community garden is already involving so many people in 2018.      Who knows what new shoots will surprise us in the year ahead!

 


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Outstanding!

Pictured at Newark Town Hall yesterday: Isobel and Sheila with Matt and Peter from Pleasley Community Orchard all receiving awards

 Hot off the press ………………… 

Green and Wild, St Mark’s Community gardeners, have received another Level 5 ‘Outstanding’ award at the Royal Horticultural Society’s East Midlands in Bloom ‘It’s Your Neighbourhood’ presentation in Newark.   The judges have been very impressed this year with the way we’ve involved children and young people in our garden project.

It was suggested that having now achieved this level for four years in a row we could be up for a special nomination if we surpass ourselves next year.

Well done everyone!   All hands to the spade!


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Standing up for ‘Green and Wild’

Watch this space for the result of the RHS East Midlands in Bloom presentations coming up on 1st November at Newark Town Hall.   You will remember that this year’s target has been to gain more than 90 marks for our Community Garden efforts.   Fingers crossed!

The display of pumpkins and marrows, overseen by our friendly scarecrow (Fr. James has named him or her, Mark/ Marcia, as we’re not quite sure of the sex) at the Harvest Festival last week was magnificent!   If anyone fancies making soup or pumpkin pie to share, please let Isobel or Sheila know.

There’s just under a week left for people to write to Mansfield District Council to protest against the proposed access
road off Quarry Lane to the Gregory Quarry development.   Although it’s very easy to feel we have no power to make a difference, I believe very strongly that this is something we should oppose, not only from the traffic congestion problem but far more for the future of our Nature Reserve.    The more people who bother to write, the more our voice will be heard.   An excellent letter in the Chad this week puts the argument against the new road very eloquently.

To comment/object (Ref: 2017/0575/OUT) by 18 October 2017, please email: pbc@mansfield.gov.uk

or write to Head of Planning, Mansfield District Council, Civic Centre, Mansfield NG19 7BH.

Please share this information as widely as possible.

Walking beside our River Maun, the words of Gerard Manley Hopkins ring in my ears and although I can’t articulate exactly what this poem means, I know it’s about my place in creation and my relationship with the Creator.   This green space is a special place:
As kingfishers catch fire, dragonflies draw flame;
As tumbled over rim in roundy wells
Stones ring; like each tucked string tells, each hung bell’s
Bow swung finds tongue to fling out broad its name;
Each mortal thing does one thing and the same:
Deals out that being indoors each one dwells;
Selves — goes itself; myself it speaks and spells,
Crying Whát I dó is me: for that I came.
I say móre: the just man justices;
Keeps grace: thát keeps all his goings graces;
Acts in God’s eye what in God’s eye he is —
Chríst — for Christ plays in ten thousand places,
Lovely in limbs, and lovely in eyes not his
To the Father through the features of men’s faces.
                                           Gerard Manley Hopkins


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Pumpkin picking

As I fill another barrow-load of topsoil to build up the raised beds and borders ready for another year of growing in the Community Garden at St Mark’s, I  wonder why on earth I’m doing it.   Let’s face it, I’ve got my own garden at home and even an allotment, which should be more than enough to satisfy my passion for gardening!

After the service last Sunday (even before refreshments), Wyatt Leigh and Isabel joined me in the garden to cut the pumpkins, all fourteen of them!   Wyatt Leigh has watched the progress of his two pumpkins right from sowing the seeds, to planting them out, watering and proudly watching them grow.   Now he’s harvesting them and looking forward to carving them as Halloween lanterns, hopefully saving some seed to dry for next year and maybe even making soup or pumpkin pie for bonfire night.

That’s why we do it!  We’re passionate about inspiring young people to engage in the whole cycle of life that makes the seasons turn and feeds and sustains us.

On Tuesday, Wilf and Esme from the Under Fives Group toddled over to the garden with Mums and Grannies to pick runner bean pods for drying so they could save the beans to sow next year.   The look of wonder on their faces as they popped open the bean cases to discover the shiny seeds inside and as they stood at the door of the greenhouse to cradle one of the beautiful orange pumpkins, was a real joy.

That’s why we do it!   It’s about caring and nurturing, about  giving and receiving gifts, about trusting and being rooted in a God who is faithful and will not let us down.   That’s a good enough reason for me.