Growing in Capel St. Mary
In 2009 following discussions with the local primary school we decided to create an additional area of interest for the students and other groups to visit and learn about fauna and flora to supplement periodic walks around the allotments site. In time we hope to create a natural environment where everyone can observe nature at first-hand, hopefully learn a little, and enjoy the serenity of the area.
Over time much work has been put into developing and maintaining the wildlife area and visits can be arranged as required. There follows a potted history of our wildlife area and we hope you get as much pleasure in reading about it as we had in creating and maintaining it.
JCB digs hole for pond and landscape area to North and East. Start to accumulate pile of logs to attract insects.
Heavy prolonged rain. Pump out pond and allow to dry. Order fencing, posts, creosote, hose pipes and fittings and gates. Rotovate raised area.
Erect fencing and 5 bar gate using posts salvaged from county council and telegraph posts which we had left over from an earlier project. Shape pond by hand and create a ledge for marginal planting. Rotovate raised area.
Cover pond bottom with 2 or 3 layers of carpeting to protect pond liner. Lay underlay then butyl liner and overlay. Cover overlay with sand to hold it in place. Fill pond with water. Fill orange onion nets with soil and place on ledge to hold liner in place. Mark out path to North of pond. Cut pathways to South of pond. Make a list of plants required to attract bees, birds and butterflies.
Dig out area to side of pond to create a bog garden and line as before. Rotovate raised area. Plant donated water lily. Cut back pond liner and underlay & overlay. Fill in bog garden area with excavated soil. Fill second layer of green net sacks, marginal planting will go into these sacks. We already have mating Dragonflies and Damsels, Water Boatmen and Pond Skaters and a whole host of insects colonising the pond– things are beginning to happen.
Plant donated marginal lilies. Spring bulbs ordered. Cover cut edge with turf to start naturalising process. Sow grass seed on Northern path. Plant iris.
A frog has made its home in the pond.
Plant 1400 bulbs including Bluebells, Narcissi, Fritillaries, Anemone, Muscari and Erythronium. Order field & hedgerow mix of annual, biennial and perennial flower seed. Build insect hotel using pallets. Plant perennials. 1st cut of new path.
Red tailed mating dragonflies hovering over pond. Lots of activity.
Sow mix of annual, biennial & perennial flower seed. Plant curly willow hedge.Net pond to catch leaf fall.
The water has remained consistently clear.
Plant 2nd batch of perennials.
Good display of Spring bulbs – Perennials & Hedge/Field flower seed growing strongly –blanket weed cleared – paths cut – net removed. Two common Newts spotted.
Lay ground cover & plant 50 bird, bee & butterfly friendly shrubs. Install second gate using surplus telegraph posts. Furnish insect hotel with, canes, tiles, straw and bottles. Dragonfly activity.
Footings in for covered social & educational area.Water level very low due to hot dry spring but rising.
Structure up & cover on. Test run with our Annual BBQ.
Wildflowers cut back, shrubs trimmed & mulched, pipes installed to feed pond with water harvested from storage shed roofs. Insect activity in pond, hedgehog under insect hotel.
High winds destroy cover on seating area – pond netted to catch falling leaves.
Area to the south of the site bordering the footpath & pond area rotovated in preparation for sowing a mix of cornfield annuals to celebrate the Queen‘s Diamond Jubilee in association with RHS Britain in Bloom & other groups around the country. Footpath hedge has failed & needs replanting.
Cornfield seeds sown. The pond is full and is being topped up with water harvested from the storage sheds & there is loads of activity below and on the water surface. The spring flowers have done well in their second year and the perennials are filling out well. The shrubs are leafing up and even the trees salvaged from the bonfire are coming into bloom. The area has had a makeover at the work-in, we have selectively weeded, trimmed the pathways & mulched between the shrubs to conserve moisture with wood chippings kindly supplied by Michael Hodgetts of Constable Country Tree Care Ltd.
A raised pond & small perennial garden have been created on top of the insect hotel. Bog area planted (heavy rain has made area very muddy, hopefully plants will survive) Frogs & newt activity seen & water boatmen & dragonfly larvae.
Blanket weed removed, donated oxygenating plants put in pond, other plants added to surrounding area. Covered area recovered. Paths cut. Black angled labels purchased.
Perennial plants cut down & shrubs pruned & area tidied up for the winter.
Pond clear & full. Donated bluebells planted, footpath hedge reinstated with curly willow, blackberry cuttings & Hawthorne shrub. Trees cut back & hazel coppiced. Norway spruce trees planted to the east of pond area. Information cards purchased.
Information cards photocopied on to plastic boards & mounted on low level pedestals using materials salvaged from bonfire night. Donated ‘in the green’ bluebells planted. Paths get their first cut of the year.
From late April to mid-May the Daffodils & Snakes Head Fritillaries have been magnificent, the Grape Hyacinths in the shade of the footpath hedge are still vivid blue, the Bluebells are just starting to show colour & the shrubs are coming into their own. Not a frog in sight but we counted 15 Newts & a myriad of pond skaters, numerous diving beetles, water snails & dragon fly larvae. We are sure everyone will find the new information boards very helpful to identify pond life, butterfly’s & other wild life in this corner of the Allotments Site. We are delighted that several groups have taken up our offer to visit us over the next couple of months. Plant nursery set up in covered area. Frog Spawn supplied by one of our members added to pond.
The Pond is naturalising very well, however, we have had to clear an area sown with cornfield flowers which has become choked with weed. Plants raised in the nursery have now been planted there & new seed sown which should improve this sector. We found plenty of insects, bugs & beetles when the Beavers & Rainbows came pond dipping including baby newts, dragon fly lave, loads of water snails & a leach. Pale blue Chaser Dragonflies & blue & red Damsels are out in profusion on sunny days.
Although the water level has dropped this area is looking very good as more plants & shrubs come into flower attracting butterfly’s, hoverflies, bees & other insects. Check the information boards if you see something interesting that you can’t identify. Fritillary seed heads have dried & burst.
Although the water level is falling this area is looking very good as more plants & shrubs come into flower attracting butterfly’s, hoverflies, bees & other insects. We have now propagated in excess of 300 plants from seed & planted 200 plus in the cleared area. Surplus plants are being sold at ‘The Hut’ as a self-financing exercise. Check the information boards if you see something interesting that you can’t identify. Fritillary seed heads have dried & burst. Bees & Butterflies are about in profusion on hot sunny afternoon’s.
We have been treated to several different dragonflies over the summer, hovering over the water & resting on the tall stems of plants around the pond. The new perennials are looking healthy & some are already producing flower heads.
Shrubs pruned & area tidied at the work-in.
Pond full & clear, already some activity in the water on sunny days. Bug Hotel furnished with additional clay pots, canes & straw. Paths cut. Temporary fence erected to protect fritillary’s as they emerge in the green. Overhanging branches cut back. Good showing of daffodils & polyanthus.
Wood Anemone’s & Blue Bells are bulking up nicely. Newts & other pond dwellers very lively. Perennial area undergone a selective weeding & mulching & more plants added. Log pile topped up.
Red admiral & orange tip butterflies seen most days.
Our first tadpoles have taken over the shallows & make the water shimmer as you approach the pond. Shrubs & perennials are spreading colour throughout the area. Tulips & Alliums planted.
Blue Tits in one of the bird boxes & a Grass Snake in the pond.
Pale blue male & brown female broad bodied Dragonflies are hovering over the pond & alighting on the tall plants at the water’s edge. A yellow & black Hornet has been seen flying between the flowers on the bank & the Oak tree. Oxeye Daisies are returning to the area & there is evidence that a small Muntjac deer, from the wooded area to the east, has jumped the fence & visited the pond & the rest of the site. A multitude of blue & red damsel’s are flying all over the area.
There is now plenty of height on the perennials we grew from seed. Lots of butterfly & dragon fly activity around these plants.
The Area has been cut back & tidied at the work-in. Water from the new covered BBQ is now being harvested to top up the pond.
Pond now full. Perennials have died back. Seeds in the teasels & poppies have sprouted while still in the seed head.
We now have some colour from the mixed daffodils & polyanthus & the orange berberus. The fratillias are 6” tall but as yet not showing colour & the tarda tulips are still only leaves. Buds are breaking on most of the shrubs that we cut back in the autumn. The frogs have found their way back to the pond & have deposited some sporn. The water level is high & clear & we have recently cut the paths.
The pond is very clear & you can already see a lot of wild life activity, use the information boards to identify anything you see. The bulbs & shrubs are putting on a good show of colour & the whole area is looking exceptionally good after its work-in face lift.
The King Cups on the water’s edge are glowing bright yellow & some pale blue forget-me-nots have taken up residence on the east bank. The bluebells have bulked up and are making a good show under the trees & there are small white alliums in the long grass. Recent rain has topped up the pond.
The Pale blue male & brown female broad bodied Dragonflies are back hovering over the pond & alighting on the tall plants. Plenty of activity in the pond. Blue & red damsel’s are flying all over the area.
Lots of butterfly & dragon fly activity. The perennial mix has changed from last year presumably due to a number of the newly introduced plants last year being bi-annual.
A Herron has been seen visiting the pond several times. Suffolk Wild Life Trust has been to look at the Owl boxes but still no Owls, only Crows.
Perennials, shrubs & long grass have all been cut down and cleared. The water level was lowered & we have pulled out the bull rushes which were crowding the pond & left the debris on the side so that any creatures caught up in them have a chance to return to the pond. We have planted 100 Alliums near the west fence & 100 Wood Anemones under the trees & 60 Daffodils.
The debris has now been removed from the ponds edge & the water level has been topped up with water harvested from the BBQ roof & has now cleared.
We now have some colour from the mixed Daffodils & Polyanthus & the orange Berberus. The Fratillias are 6” tall but as yet not showing colour, the Tarda Tulips are still only leaves & the newly planted Alliums are now pushing through. Under the trees the Blue Bells are coming up on mass. There is some activity in the pond with several Newts & Diving Beetles making full use of the extra space we created by removing most of the Bull Rushes in October last year. At the West end of the pond the frogs have been busy depositing sporn in the shallows. The water level is high & we have recently cut the paths. Our usual spring tidy-up will take place at the work-in.
The pond is very clear & you can already see a lot of wild life activity, use the information boards to identify anything you see. The frog sporn has gone and there are no tadpoles. The bulbs & shrubs are putting on a good show of colour & the whole area is looking exceptionally good. The Fratillias have been spectacular this year.
The Purple Allium which we planted in October are making an impact to the right as you enter the area. The bank is covered with Pink Campion and the rough prickly leaves of Teasels. Some Shrubs are in flower and we have a family of Ducks (8 chicks) taking an occasional swim on the pond. There is an established stock of Newts in the deeper water & a myriad of pond skaters, numerous diving beetles, water snails & dragon fly larvae. Please make sure children are supervised if visiting the area, we are sure they will find the information boards very helpful to identify pond life, butterfly’s & other wild life in this corner of the Allotments Site. We are delighted that several groups have again taken up our offer to visit us over the next couple of months. Please contact us for more information.
Again an abundance of Dragon Flies & Damsel’s, Water levels have been a lot better this year. The run-off from the BBQ area cover is defiantly more efficient than from the sheds 200m away.
We have had a big tidy up at the work-in leaving a majority of the teasels, which have been a good source of nectar for butterflies and bees through the summer, for the goldfinches to enjoy feeding on over the winter.
We are using the spoil from the bonfire to create a new pathway through the out laying shrubs to the north which will enter the pond area to the east with the addition of some new native hedge planting to attract birds & butterfly’s.
A thick layer of ice has formed on the pond. Perennials are already starting to grow and there are signs of bulbs pushing through the soil. There are various footprints in the frost of Ducks attracted by the pond and our friend Mr Fox is still making his regular trek across the allotments site from the south east to the North West.
Some more native hedging planted along the footpath boundary fence. New path seeded. New nets, magnifying glasses, insect and pond life identification books and frog lifespan models purchased in readiness for group visits from local clubs. Early colour from dwarf daffodils & grape hyacinths.