All posts by Blog Administrator

Successful funding bid

The Friends of the Storey Gardens (FOSG) have received an award from the Lancaster University Community Benefits Fund towards the recreation of The Tasting Garden. 

The amount received will enable us to purchase two further replacement sandstone plinths for fruit sculptures.  We do not currently have the remaining funds for the sculptures themselves but the cost of producing a sculpture is significantly less than the cost of a plinth.

Once the two new plinths have been purchased and delivered, we will install all four plinths in The Tasting Garden.  After this Alan Ward will engrave the names of all four fruits on the plinths.  Then the two fruit sculptures already created by Alan will be fixed to their plinths.  This will leave four new plinths in the garden, two with sculptures and two without.

The location of the two new plinths has yet to be finalised but one will probably be in the Apple path and the other in the Cherry path.  Thus we will have one new plinth in each of the four paths.

We hope to have all this work completed by the end of spring 2023.

Below is a photo of the Lord Suffield apple tree.  It is a possible location for the plinth in the Apple path.

The area around the Lord Suffield apple tree after weeding. Photo by Ruth Standring-Cox.

Gardening work during October 2022

In October we had much needed rain. This saved us the task of watering but reduced the time we were able to work in the gardens. Also, the wet ground made tasks such as scraping the wildflower areas harder work.

So, this is what we did achieve in the Storey Gardens during October 2022:

  • Finished scraping the wildflower areas to almost bare earth and sowing yellow rattle seed.  It is the yellow rattle plants that help to create the wildflower areas.  The roots of the yellow rattle are semi-parasitic feeding on the nutrients in the roots of the more vigorous grasses.  This weakens the grass giving more delicate species of wildflowers the opportunity to grow. We will see the results of our efforts next summer.
  • Swept up lots of fallen leaves in both the Copper Beech Garden and The Tasting Garden.  The copper beech leaves are stored in a special area where they can rot down into leaf mould.  It takes a couple of years for this to happen.  We will continue doing this into November.
  • Weeded the flower beds and cut back some of the perennials that have finished flowering. An ongoing task.
  • Fiona arranged flowers in vases for display in The Storey.
  • The Bay: A blueprint for recovery group built us another table out of pallets.  We will use this table in the Plants for Sale area of the Copper Beech Garden.
  • Sieved some topsoil for potting up plants.
  • Planted crocus and triteleia bulbs.
  • Planted cowslips where a patch of ribwort plantain had been removed.
  • Removed ivy from part of the wall between The Tasting Garden and the Friends Meeting House.
  • Cleared the grass and weeds along the edges of the paths in order to show better the shape of the paths.  Another ongoing task.

See below some photos taken of our gardening volunteers in action during the month.

Gardening work during September 2022

This is what we did in the Storey Gardens during September 2022:

  • Scraping the wildflower areas to almost bare earth and sowing yellow rattle seed.  It is the yellow rattle plants that help to create the wildflower areas.  The roots of the yellow rattle are semi-parasitic feeding on the nutrients in the roots of the more vigorous grasses.  This weakens the grass giving more delicate species of wildflowers the opportunity to grow. There will more of this activity during October.
  • Weeding the flower beds especially around the Swan’s Egg pear.  An ongoing task.
  • Clearing the grass and weeds along the edges of the paths in order to show better the shape of the paths.  Another ongoing task.
  • Taking cuttings and potting up plants to sell at the Heritage Open Days.
  • Picking ripe fruit to offer to visitors at the Heritage Open Days.
  • Using a hand mower to cut the grass in The Tasting Garden. A border is mowed around the paths and also the non-wildflower grass areas.
  • Planting cowslips with The Bay: A blueprint for recovery group in the wildflower areas.
  • Cutting back catnip spilling on to the pavement from the garden opposite Lancaster Castle. The Friends of the Storey Gardens maintain this garden as well as the Copper Beech Garden and The Tasting Garden.

See below some photos taken of our gardening volunteers during the month.

Swan’s Egg pear plinth removed

This week Lancaster City Council staff have removed the existing concrete plinth by the Swan’s Egg pear tree. The old plinth for the Czar plum was removed in May 2022. Click here to read that post.

Also, on 27 September 2022 we reported that that Alan Ward has completed both the Swan’s Egg pear and Czar plum sculptures. Click here to read that post.

The next step is to install the new Sandstone plinths alongside these trees in The Tasting Garden. After this, Alan will engrave the names of the fruits on the plinths and the sculptures will then be fitted onto the plinths. We will keep you informed of progress.

There are no photographs of the Swan’s Egg pear plinth being removed. We do, however, have photos of the plinth next to the pear tree prior to removal and the tree again but with the plinth no longer present. There are also photos of the plinth in two pieces at the bottom of the Garden awaiting removal. See the slideshow below.

Czar plum sculpture complete

Alan Ward has completed the sculpture of the Czar plum. He has also made the wooden stalks for both the Swan’s Egg pear and the Czar plum.

Chris Wright has taken photographs of Alan polishing the Czar plum sculpture and also a photograph of both fruit sculptures with their wooden stalks in place.

Progress on the Czar plum sculpture

Alan Ward has been making progress on the second fruit sculpture, Czar plum, in his studio in Lancaster Castle.

Chris Wright has visited him on a number of occasions to photograph how the work is taking shape.

See the short slideshow below.

Gardening work during August 2022

This is what we did in the Storey Gardens during August 2022:

  • Weeding the flower beds and the circles around the fruit trees.  An ongoing task.
  • Clearing the grass and weeds along the edges of the paths in order to show better the shape of the paths.  Another ongoing task.
  • During the dry weather, watering seedlings, vegetables and the plants in pots.
  • Clearing around the soft fruit area and removing some of the old raspberry canes.
  • Moving the Plants for Sale area in the Copper Beech Garden. Click here to view a separate post about this.
  • Clearing brambles from the space between the Meeting House Lane wall and the yew hedge. 
  • Lowering and thinning the holly and wild briars in the old hedge between the yew hedge and the Bee & Butterfly border to let in more light.
  • Assisting the Lancaster City Council staff strim the wildflower areas in The Tasting Garden. Click here to view a separate post about this.
  • Planting out Verbena bonariensis seedlings in the Bee & Butterfly border.
  • Planting out cowslip seedlings in the lower part of the wildflower meadow area.
  • Picking some of the ripe fruit in The Tasting Garden.

Moth caterpillars in The Tasting Garden

Recently we have encountered three interesting species of moth caterpillars in The Tasting Garden.

The species were:

  • Cinnabar
  • Grey Dagger
  • Elephant hawk-moth

See below some photographs of what we found.

Work commences on the second fruit sculpture

Lancaster based sculptor, Alan Ward has started work on the second of the replacement stone fruit sculptures – the Czar plum. The sculpture is being carved from Portland stone. Alan is working from a polystyrene model created by artist Robert Williams.

Chris Wright has been back to Alan’s studio in Lancaster Castle to photograph the early stages. See the slideshow below.

Strimming the Wildflower Meadow

On Monday 22 August 2022 the Lancaster City Council Grounds Maintenance team came to strim the wildflower meadow areas in The Tasting Garden.  Some Friends of the Storey Gardens (FOSG) volunteers were also present to help with the raking.

For a successful wildflower meadow it is necessary to cut the grass annually, rake it and remove it. Now the cut grass has been removed, the next task will be for FOSG volunteers to prepare some areas for sowing yellow rattle seeds.

It is the yellow rattle plants that help to create the wildflower areas.  The roots of the yellow rattle are semi-parasitic feeding on the nutrients in the roots of the more vigorous grasses.  This weakens the grass giving more delicate species of wild flowers the opportunity to grow.

So where there was insufficient yellow rattle this year to inhibit the long grass from growing we will scape these areas to almost bare earth before sowing the yellow rattle seeds we harvested during July and August.

Chris Wright was on hand to photograph the action.  The Council staff are in yellow tops and the FOSG volunteers are wearing their green tabards.

Moving the Plants for Sale

A volunteer task over the spring and summer has been moving the Plants for Sale in the Copper Beech Garden. These were located to the left of the steps sitting on the ground and on a stand made by The Bay: A blueprint for recovery.

March 2022. Plant stand made by The Bay: A blueprint for recovery. Photo by Ruth Standring-Cox

The plants needed to be moved to the right of the steps. It was a long process as a large mound of soil and rubble had to be removed first. Once this was complete more tables were required to stand the plants on. Two of our volunteers, Ruth and Clive, constructed three tables out of wooden pallets and old fence posts.

See below a few photographs of the mound being cleared and the tables at the final stages of construction.

After removing some weeds, we positioned all the tables, ensured they were level.  The ground here is tarmac that has become uneven.  We also moved a bamboo plant in a pot into this area to hide part of the wall behind (N.B.  The bamboo is not for sale!).

The final step was to move the plants.  See below some photos of the finished work.  I hope you will agree that the area now looks more attractive.

Swan’s Egg pear sculpture complete

Alan Ward has completed the sculpture of the Swan’s Egg pear. At the bottom of this post are photographs Chris Wright has taken showing Alan making the finishing touches. There is a circular depression at the top of the fruit sculpture. This is where the wooden stalk will be fitted.

There is still work to be done before the sculpture can go on display in The Tasting Garden.

The existing plinth next to the Swan’s Egg tree in the garden has to be removed and the new plinth made of sandstone installed. Then Alan will inscribe the name the fruit on the plinth. Finally the fruit sculpture will be fixed to the plinth.

All these activities will be take a few weeks yet. Progress will be reported as new posts on this blog.

The Swan’s Egg pear sculpture “taking shape”

Chris Wright has been visiting Alan Ward in his studio yet again.

Below are some more photos from Chris taken between 29 July and 2 August 2022.

You can see how the Portland stone sculpture is taking shape and is now looking like a pear.

Gardening work during July 2022

This is what we did in the Storey Gardens during July 2022:

  • We finished removing the mound of soil and rubble in the Copper Beech Garden. This was the mound by the steps coming up from the Storey.
  • Weeding along the edges of the paths in order to show better the shape of the paths.  This is an ongoing task.
  • During the dry weather, watering the fruit and vegetable plants.
  • Harvesting the yellow rattle seeds.  The Bay: A blueprint for recovery helped with this (see photograph below). After Lancaster City Council‘s Grounds Maintenance team has cut the grass during August, we will rake the wild flower areas and sow the seeds ready for next year.
  • Weeding the flower beds.
  • Weeding around the betony plants in the Copper Beech Garden. Click here to view a separate post about this.
  • Training the young espalier apple trees against the Georgian wall in The Tasting Garden along bamboo canes (see photograph below).
  • Pruning the plum and cherry trees. This must be done in July.
  • Summer pruning the apple trees.
  • Further thinning of the apple and pear fruits

Gatekeeper Butterfly

Yesterday, 27 July 2022, we had a number of gatekeeper butterflies behind the folly in The Tasting Garden.

Searching the Internet for further information revealed that an alternative name for a gatekeeper butterfly is hedge brown and the butterfly in the photo below is female.

Gatekeeper butterfly in the Tasting Garden. Photo by Ruth Standring-Cox