I think that it is safe to say, last month was one of our busiest months. Not only were we busy in the garden, but also with events out in the community. The garden is now completely full, with Runner beans, French beans, and Borlotti beans transplanted and our new slug deterrent … coffee grounds surrounding each plant. We have also done more direct sowings of radish, kohl rabi, spinach, and lettuce to ensure a continuous supply. The rewarding job of harvesting eventually got underway and after a slow start, we have now had salads, carrots, spring onions, and radish with much more to follow. There are peas and tomatoes ready for picking, but you have to be fast to taste them!
On the flower front, we have planted up our hanging baskets with trailing geraniums (after changing the liners and cleaning the chains on the baskets) and after a few weeks of “growing on” in the greenhouse, they are now in place and are starting to bloom. The Stovehouse border is now complete with cosmos, malva and sweet peas already in flower. The best show of flowers for the month must have been on the terrace where sweet william, sweet rocket, aquilegia and lavender have given us a good show with the climbing rose “Tess of the Durberviles” in full bloom over the pergola.
The GL kitchen has also been busy, with salads from the garden accompanying each meal (edible flowers included). Baked potatoes have been a favourite with homemade coleslaw. Pork and butterbean curry has been served up as has chicken bbq hoagies. In-house we celebrated Armed Forces Day with a one-pot meal served to the veterans in the Stovehouse. Victoria and a veteran spent a morning in the kitchen making a sweet and sour chicken and vegetable balti (recipe courtesy of ISS).
Going out and about, we had a plant stall at Hollybush Fete where we caught up with familiar faces and old friends. Despite the rain, we made around £70 in donations from plant sales and at the end of the day we took receipt of some lovely plants kindly donated from Francis McCaughey who works at Kilmarnock college. We will continue to nurture these plants and then give them a good home. Later in the month, we took ourselves off to the Low Green in Ayr for Armed Forces Day and again we had a plant stall. The crowd were generous and we made around £180 in donations from sales. We also received orders for our woodwork items at this event (not only because of the high quality of the items … but from the sales pitch!)
In the same month, one evening in Ayr town hall, we congratulated our longstanding and committed volunteers. Each one of them nominated for an award through “South Ayrshire Volunteers Awards”. It was amazing to see their names on the overhead screen as they each went up to receive their certificate from the Provost. We have referred to our volunteers as “doses of decency” and that evening brought it home as they each received bronze and silver awards from the council for their time volunteering with Gardening Leave.
Visitors to the garden this month; our own Emma Mason was “on tour” and visited the Scottish sites. We hope she enjoyed our company as much as we enjoyed hers! We also welcomed Neil Morrison from Veterans Scotland to the Ayr site to give him an insight into the work that is carried out at GL.
Donations continue this month and we received a selection of small shrubs from SRUC which we will sell at our open day on Sunday 5thJuly 12:00pm – 4:00pm. We would also like to thank Margaret Bean, who donated all the home baking for the open day (again!) as well as continuing to bake for us on a weekly basis.
At the end of the month, we spent a Sunday afternoon on the terrace with veterans, volunteers, family, ISS representatives, Provosts, board members, staff, Air training Squadron, cadets and Sgt Johnston Beharry VC to rededicate the raised beds constructed by ISS. I think it is safe to say that a lovely afternoon was had by all! The raised beds were full and flourishing with vegetables and companion plants and at the last minute the veterans put in place some beautiful signs for bed numbers done using a pyrography pen … well done Bobby. These beds will allow access for all veterans to garden and enhance the side-by-side interaction between staff, volunteers, and veterans.
Pamela and Victoria.