July and August have been a mixture of busy-ness and quiet – an awful lot happening in the garden but with veteran holidays and other events some days have been a bit quieter. However, one tends to balance the other – a quieter day gives us not only more time to spend with individual veterans but also to step back for a minute and take stock which, as any gardener knows, is not easy to find the time for sometimes. Gardening completely on raised beds, as we do here at Erskine, keeping everything properly watered (and fed) is a constant challenge. A blessing as it is, the weather warming up creates a lot of work for us and we rely on our local volunteers, who do a wonderful job, watering for us at weekends when required. Seed sowing and transplanting continues in earnest – we’re still planting out lettuce, leeks, kale and lots of other veg too, most of which, as you may know, goes across to the hospital kitchens several times a week.
Our various wildlife gardening initiatives are coming along well as more activity is being seen in the garden with birds, bees & butterflies beginning to populate the new areas, to add to that, we designed and built a wildflower bed from an old trailer. As the project grew arms and legs (we’re good at that here at Erskine !) the creative juices were in full flow and, thanks to volunteer Sarah and veteran Eddie, we now have a brightly painted eye-catching feature at the back of the garden where the trailer had lain unused. We were delighted to receive a visit from the lovely people at Froglife, the amphibian conservation charity based at Glasgow University, they helped us with our wildlife areas, building deluxe insect hotels, frog ramps for our pond and mini raised ponds around the site. Providing valuable insight to the work that we are doing they were very helpful with tips and advice for our ongoing projects.
Another group of visitors were the cadets – 383 Squadron Alloa Air Cadets, such a lovely bunch of young people who were a credit, not only to themselves, but to their organisation and their group leaders. In charge was Sergeant Ross ably assisted by civilian instructors Morven and Sam. Guided by our two Erskine volunteers Sarah and Bob, they managed to get through an amazing, and very welcome, amount of weeding, tidying and clearing up, all done with good humour and grace. Their efforts count towards their Duke of Edinburgh Awards which they are working for – at different levels. Veteran Dominic did a brilliant job prepping lunch for everyone.
We were delighted to receive another donation of a greenhouse! Becoming quite adept at the processes involved with the relocation of garden sheds and greenhouses we had this one relocated from the East End of Glasgow to our project within 24 hrs! It now sits happily housing our potted up products for our upcoming sales. In the polytunnel and other greenhouse, we’ve been kept busy with our tomato and cucumber housekeeping. Cucumbers have been a big part of our deliveries to the hospital kitchen this month and our tomatoes are colouring up nicely now. To keep our sales up we have started hosting a small table across at the hospital where we can sell our home grown produce, once a fortnight. So far it has proved successful and we’ll look forward to the challenge of winter to see what we can provide. Our problem with preserves is that they are all sold as soon as they are made!
To finish, we would like to congratulate Dougie for his 1st and 2nd at the Ayr flower show for his Bonsai displays and also to Ian the Bonsai guru who religiously comes along the first Wednesday of every month to share his wisdom and knowledge.
Wendy and Karen