Continuing on from February, March turned out to be just as busy, starting with a welcome visit to the garden by Peter McCarthy, our new Erskine Gardening Leave Trustee. Peter met up with us and we talked through how our site here at Erskine operates. We had a very pleasant visit and he was interested in not only what we do but what we need on-site to be able to deliver our service to the veterans.
The development of the ‘sunny wildlife garden’ at the front corner of our site at Erskine is well underway. We have mapped and identified all existing shrub species and endeavoured on a bit of research to identify their benefits to the local wildlife. Followed by a big tidy up of the area and some hard pruning of the overgrown shrubs, our next step is to start diversifying the available food sources for our flying visitors (bees, butterflies, birds and bats). We will do this through the planting of shrubs, plants and more direct approaches of bird feeders (not forgetting the water supply).
The development of this site was made possible by funding we received as part of the Glasgow Airport flightpath fund. Through the progressive development of the area we are aiming for a corner of the hospital grounds which will be rich in biodiversity which residents and visitors to the hospital can also enjoy. The existing structure naturally lends itself to becoming a sheltered, wheelchair-accessible viewing platform were we aim to provide a bench, biodiversity information and a feedback ‘post box’ for human visitors to let us know what they see in the evenings and weekends when we are not here. Not only will this project help enormously with visually improving the area but hopefully provide a pleasant and welcoming area for visitors to come and enjoy the benefits of our therapy too.
And talking of visitors… We have a new furry visitor to the garden perhaps taking advantage of the bird food scattered around our feeders. From what we’ve read we think a weasel is the most likely since it’s much smaller than the similar stoat. In addition, numbers of birds and other wildlife are increasing all the time – mainly around the area of the new woodland garden.
Our time spent cooking is picking up for the season as our produce grows. We have been making soups and cottage pies (vegetarians catered for with the low fat meat alternative of quorn mince) as part of our healthy eating initiative. One of our veterans made a batch of apple and soft fruit jam – some of which we were able to take to our first sale of the year at the neighbouring Hewlett Packard plant. The resident ISS restaurant managers Derek and Graeme who are based at the HP plant along the road from us here at Erskine then very kindly came to visit us and have offered their assistance in developing on our ‘Plant right – eat right’ initiative with a series of cookery demonstrations. We are absolutely delighted at this prospect and look forward to their first demonstration here in the kitchen on the 23rdApril were they will be preparing a menu using produce from our garden!
Back in the garden we have finished pressure washing the floor of the canopy area for good plant hygiene and are looking forward to getting the area reroofed for the forthcoming growing season! Seed sowing has started in earnest with the first signs of spring and we are looking forward to a very fruitful year with many exciting developments.
Karen and Wendy