Christmas Meal Reminder- do tell us if you are coming!


Saturday 19th December at Marlpit Community Centre at 1pm

The Members’ Christmas Meal will have a festive menu including a choice of soups, chicken or vegetarian dishes with plenty of roast vegetables. Please bring a dessert if you can, and a bottle if you wish – soft drinks or alcohol – the premises are licensed. We’ll have collecting tins for voluntary donations to help with the costs.

We already have offers of help from the Food Team but we will need volunteers to help with clearing up afterwards.
Please tell us whether you are coming before Friday 18th,

– we need to know numbers in advance to plan how much to harvest and to cook – and let us know if you are vegetarian.

Email Moira on the link below or phone 01603 440444 or 07855 911331

Moira – The Food Team

RHS Secondary School Garden Club

An RHS Secondary School Garden Club project is to be based in our area.
They hope to work with 5 secondary schools.
As you are probably aware there is a national shortage of young people going into horticulture.
Primary schools often have gardening as a club after school, or do some growing as part of the science curriculum,
but then within secondary schools gardening disappears from the timetable!
skilled horticultural volunteer flierWe want to address this by helping secondary schools run gardening clubs at school.
We are seeking enthusiastic experienced gardeners who would like to share their knowledge with the next generation!
Please read the flier and get in touch or share it with people you know who could help.
I would like to meet with potential volunteers in January to get ready for the spring season ahead.

Many thanks
And Happy Christmas to you all –
Health Happiness and Horticulture!

Alison Findlay

Learning at Marlpit

20151212-PracticalThe last session of the 2015 Programme of Practical Gardening courses is being held at Marlpit Community Garden on Saturday 12th December 2015.
It is titled “Sustainable Gardening Practices” – click here to book a place.


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Male Oedemera nobilis, False Oil Beetle, Thick-Legged Flower Beetle, Swollen-Thighed Beetle
Click the “Thick-legged Flower Beetle” to see Teresa’s report of November’s “Gardening for Nature” session.

New Training Programme

The new programme of courses for 2016 is published. Two courses will be run on the third Saturday of each month. There are morning courses titled “Growing Fruit and Vegetables” and afternoon courses titled “Growing and Using Herbs“. To find out more and sign-up, click here.

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Christmas 2015

Grow Our Own - Christmas Party 2014

Grow Our Own – Christmas Party 2014

On Saturday 19th December at Marlpit Community Centre 1pm, the Members’ Christmas Meal will have a festive menu including a choice of soups, roast chicken or vegetarian dishes with plenty of roast vegetables. Please bring a dessert if you can, and a bottle if you wish – soft drinks or alcohol – the premises are licensed. We’ll have collecting tins for voluntary donations to help with the costs.

We already have offers of help from the Food Team but we will need volunteers to help with clearing up afterwards.
Please tell us before Thursday 17th, if you are coming  – we will need to know numbers in advance to plan how much to cook – and let us know if you are vegetarian.

Email Moira on the link below or phone 01603 440444

Moira – The Food Team

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Norwich in Bloom Awards

marlpit cert 2015The two SLI projects, Grow Our Own and Marlpit Community Garden, received certificates for achievement in their communities at a Norwich presentation recently.
We were among over 100 community groups from the Norwich area who are encouraged each year by the Friends of Norwich in Bloom to enter the national RHS/Britain in Bloom ‘Its Your Neighbourhood’ campaign through Anglia in Bloom.
This year’s presentation was at Brook Hotel, Bowthorpe where guests enjoyed a buffet after receiving their certificates from Brian Thornton, President of Anglia in Bloom, and guest speaker Alison Findlay, of RHS/Britain in Bloom.
Mr Thornton, in his welcome, said of the ‘It’s Your Neighbourhood’ scheme that it was to give people recognition for what they had achieved in their area.
Grow Our Own was represented by Moira Froud and Peter Anderson, and Marlpit Community Centre by Tish Kerkham. The Bluebell GO2 award was at Level 4 – Thriving. Last year’s GO2 certificate was at Level 5 – Outstanding.
Peter commented: ‘I was pleased to attend the event, especially as I was unaware what ‘It’s Your Neighbourhood’ was about. Perhaps next year we could do a little more and get back our Level 5 status.’
GO2 has further involvement with the Royal Horticultural Society through its Kew Gardens wildflower seeds project, which is ongoing.
Marlpit Community Garden’s award was at Level 3 – Developing. Tish said “I think this is a fair assessment of where we are now. As a new project we have done well to receive this award.”

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Marlpit Bees Ready For Winter

bees_wrapped_up-x768Our bee hives are wrapped up and ready for winter. Green woodpeckers love to feast on honey in cold weather, so we have wrapped the hives in wire mesh to stop them. Bricks and stones on the roofs should prevent the hives blowing over and the entrances have been partly blocked to keep out any mice looking for somewhere to nest.

On mild days the worker bees can still be seen bringing in last minute supplies, but on most days during the winter they will be clustered together with the queen in the centre. They vibrate their wing muscles to maintain the temperature of the cluster at 35˚C.


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Birds of Marlpit Community Garden – December 2015

In November I saw the Rose Ringed Parakeets which first visited the garden in October, but haven’t seen them this month. They draw attention to themselves by their raucous screeching calls, which seem so out of place coming from such exquisitely beautiful birds. It remains to be seen whether they will survive this far north. There are now thriving colonies in the south of Britain; the royal parks in London hold large numbers, and they are increasing their range all the time, probably due to a combination of global warming and an increasing number of people putting out foods for the birds: they are frequent visitors to garden bird tables.

Alauda arvensis, Skylark on barbed-wire fence

Alauda arvensis, Skylark on barbed-wire fence

A skylark flew over the Garden yesterday. They don’t appear to be resident there, but are common a mile or so further along the Marriot’s Way. They are one of the many farmland birds whose population has declined thanks to the intensification of agriculture, and their survival in relatively large numbers here is probably due to the farmland being farmed sympathetically for wildlife, with large unploughed margins to the fields. The farmers are paid by the European Union for this environmentally friendly farming.
We have been planting a large number of trees which we obtained from the Woodland Trust over the last few weeks. They should encourage more birds into the Garden, especially the rowan and hawthorn, whose berries provide such an important source of food for thrushes such as the redwing in cold winter weather when the ground is too frozen to probe for worms and there are few insects about.

Prunella modularis and Troglodytes troglodytes: a Dunnock arguing with a Wren

Prunella modularis and Troglodytes troglodytes: a Dunnock arguing with a Wren

Yesterday, while we were out planting trees along the southern boundary of the site by the hedge we saw a hedge sparrow, or dunnock. These unassuming birds are not true sparrows, having a thin bill and eating mainly insects and spiders, in contrast with the house sparrows and tree sparrows which are the only members of the sparrow family commonly found in Britain, whose thick bills show that seeds form a large part of their diet, especially in winter. Dunnock have a beautiful warbling song, and a very interesting sex life, being polygamous, unlike most birds who are monogamous.

A pair of Goldfinches, Carduelis carduelis, feeding on thistle-seeds

A pair of Goldfinches, Carduelis carduelis, feeding on thistle-seeds

The beautiful twittering calls of goldfinches can be heard nearly all the time along the edge of the Garden, where the birds call from the trees and hedges before coming down to feed on the seeds of the various wild flowers which are common on the Garden. Their cheerful songs and colourful plumage nearly led to their extinction in Britain early in the last century, when they were extremely popular as cage birds and many were trapped to be sold as pets. They were saved by legislation outlawing the sale of British birds other than those which had been bred in captivity.

Waterlogged field with horses and gulls in February 2011 at Marlpit, Norwich

Waterlogged field with horses and gulls in February 2011 at Marlpit, Norwich

A few gulls were feeding on the ground in the horses’ field in the north of the Garden yesterday, and included a Lesser Black-backed Gull. These gulls are migratory; our breeding “LBB”s leave for the Mediterranean at the end of summer, and are replaced by wintering birds from Scandinavia. Five years ago, when Marlpit Community Garden consisted entirely of grazing for horses, a large pond used to appear at the northern end of the field every winter, and attracted large numbers of gulls. It will be interesting to see if our efforts to provide a marshy area and a pond there attract more of them.

Chris Keene


Photos by Jim

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Newsletter Number 4

We welcome news items, please send to This blog-page will be sent on 27/11/2015, and Newsletter Number 5 will follow on 11/12/2015, the deadline for items to include being 9/12/2015).

The SLI Annual Report for 2014-15 has just been published on our website – comments and feedback are welcome …

Annual Report 2014-15 Dates for the diary

What’s been happening

What to do now


logo-growwilduk-comThe Grow For ItAwards

An opportunity for a grant from Kew (Royal Botanic Gardens): if you have a community-based wildflower-related project in mind, follow this picture-link.


image1Pictures of Nick Winn, water engineer, connecting the tanks to deliver rain water for delivery to dip tanks.

Click on the picture (and keep clicking) to see what happened…





Building the new tool-shed

Building the new tool-shed

The build continues despite weather conditions.



Training Day 11November 14th 2015

Gardening With Nature”, with George Ishmael

George discussed our climate here in Norfolk and Norwich. Very dry, almost drought (official definition) conditions.

Male Oedemera nobilis, False Oil Beetle, Thick-Legged Flower Beetle, Swollen-Thighed Beetle

Thick-Legged Flower Beetle on Ox-eye Daisy (Photo Jim) Click to book training courses.


And went on to explain how the large fields and intensive farming of our area is not an ideal habitat for wild life. There are more insects, small creatures and greater diversity in the smaller fields in the west of the country.

He gave us ideas of how to work with nature, in an organic way, to grow plants that like the dry conditions.

The training was held at the Community Centre, as the day was cold and wet.

A walk was taken to see the Wild Flower Border at the Garden. George explained his ideas behind the planning, and how it has proceeded so far, and what he expects in the future.

The walk was followed by a delicious lunch, provided by Amy and Mahesh, of food grown at the Gardens.

The group enjoyed the session and left with a native strawberry or ox-eye daisy.
George Ishmael is an Environmental Scientist and a Chartered Landscape Architect, he designed the layout of the Marlpit Community Garden.



Click here to see all Sophie’s photos of this training session.

Here is George explaining to the group about management of the wild flower border that he planted at Marlpit Community Garden last year.

Photos by Sophie

Overwintering Vegetables at GO2 BluebellBluebell-members

There are a couple of weeks left to plant overwintering vegetables before the weather gets colder, Broad Beans and Onions are available in the Green shed, the Garlic is finished now but can be planted in spring, anyone who has missed out this Autumn please let me know and more can be ordered for spring planting.

icon-onions-guideicon-broad-beans-guideInformation on how to plant the broad beans and  onions is available on the website, in the Green Shed and in the Planting Manual.


MCG Winter planting MCG-button-logo-icon

Broad beans, garlic and onions are available in the container at Marlpit Community Garden.


Newsletter Number 3

Tasks for November (advice on what might need doing on your plot)

Dates for the Diary

Sunday 15th November – Composting at Bluebell South
Tuesday 17th November – Tree-planting at Marlpit
Saturday 28th November – Ricardo’s Masterclass
Saturday 28th November – Tree-planting at Marlpit
Saturday 19th December – Christmas Meal

Bluebell News

November Food Share
Land and Water Update at Bluebell South

MCG News

Pots at MCG
Pond Life at MCG
1,500 Bulbs planted
Pumpkin Day (with spiders)
Tree planting
MCG Birds


10th November 2015

Chris and Teresa planting trees

Tuesday turned out to be a lovely mild day for the group that gathered to plant trees round the borders of Marlpit Community Garden. They were “whips” donated by the Woodland Trust. One team concentrated on clearing undergrowth and planting a mixture of hawthorns, rowans and cherry trees. Others focused on clearing round previously planted trees and planting dogwood near the entrance. We also have hazel trees to join those already established at the far end of the site and birches that we can use to start a small birch grove.

After a busy morning the group enjoyed a relaxing meal.
A welcome lunch break




SATURDAY 28TH NOVEMBER (On this day please bring a dish to share)


Cardboard needed for mulching in the Forest Garden at Marlpit Community
Garden. If you have non-shiny cardboard please bring it along after 10am
on a Tuesday or Saturday morning. Thank you.


Birds of Marlpit Community Garden November 2015

The autumn migration has now nearly completed, with a fieldfare being spotted flying over the Garden. These northern thrushes, about the size of a large blackbird, visit us for the winter, having migrated here from their breeding grounds in northern Europe. They can be recognised by their characteristic “chack chack chack” call.


Can you name these four thrush species? Click for the answer.

Robins are now singing from the hedgerow on the southern boundary of the Garden. Unlike most birds, robins sing all the year round, and in the autumn the females sing as well as the males, with the aim of the song being to warn off other robins, as robins are fiercely territorial, with the red breast acting as a warning sign, so much so that they will attack anything of a red colour, even a bunch of feathers. Robins will often come and pick up insects and worms which are disturbed by someone digging. This contrasts with their behaviour in much of continental Europe, where they are a shy woodland bird.
Wrens have also been singing from the hedgerow. They are another bird which also sings all year round, with their songs being surprisingly loud for so small

A Wren, Troglodytes troglodytes

A Wren, Troglodytes troglodytes

a bird. Although they are one of the commonest British birds, they are not seen all that often because they are so secretive. Perhaps you will spot one foraging in bushes close to the ground if you observe carefully.
Jays are busy collecting acorns to bury in the ground to tide them over the winter. The oak trees which produce the acorns are spread by animals such as jays and squirrels which bury them and then forget where they have left them, so the acorn can then grown into a new tree.

Magpies and jackdaws have been feeding in the horses’ field, often probing in the dung for beetles, for which the dung is a good source of food. The horses are a useful source of manure, which provides nutrients for the organic gardening we practice at the Garden as we don’t use any artificial fertilisers.


Chris Keene

Food event

Ricardo’s Masterclass at Marlpit Community Centre – Saturday 28th November 2015


About a dozen would-be chefs gathered at the Marlpit Community Centre to learn the tricks of the trade from Ricardo, our resident professional. We cooked four dishes: tortillas de patatas (potato omelette to you); spinach and ricotta ravioli; kale gnocchis; and to round it off – sensational sopaipillas with panela – pumpkin and flour patties deep fried with a sweet orange sauce. Yum!

Rochelle Wilson

Click here to see the recipes.

Compost at GO2 Bluebell SouthGO2-button-logo-icon-32x24

We are having a general tidy up of the composting areas from 10am on Sunday 15th November. Please feel free to lend a hand even if you are not in the composting team. If you could spare an hour or two it would be much appreciated.

 A note from Juyna
2015-11-01 13.39
“On a gloriously sunny day we had a lovely food share in October. Thought you’d like this photo.”



(Jim says, “Click on photos – see more…”)

Land and water update


November Food Share

It was really nice to meet greet and chat with a few of the team who came to the food share. It was good to hear your ideas especially booking one food share for a general tidy and clearance session around strips. I’ll get that in the diary. Give me your suggested date/s for the cleanup. Remember choose from first Sundays.

Tidy tools

Tidy tools

Water supply.
The large tanks are being drained this week in preparation for grey water connection.
Help will be needed to clean guttering which will direct rain water from the centre building to the tanks. This is pencilled in for Sunday but has yet to be confirmed.

The Team.
There are members of the team I have yet to meet. Please make your self known to me by emailing but better tell me when you are going to your allotment as I may be able to come to you. Text 07766032098


Pond Life at Marlpit Community Garden

filling the pond-20150515

Filling the pond in May 2015

The pond we dug in February (and filled in May) near to the bee sanctuary in Marlpit Forest Garden has been attracting wild life all summer.
Bees, wasps and butterflies have been seen drinking the water, dragonflies hovering above it and water boatmen swimming through the water weed.DSCN1951-pond
Frogs and toads, big and small, have been seen in and around the pond and baby newts were found there in October, showing that we have created an environment where they can breed successfully.


This frog posed for his photo last week.




Mark Sorrell planting bulbs


Crocus vernus var. “Cream Beauty”

Volunteers at Marlpit Community Garden planted 1,500 crocus bulbs on Tuesday 3rd November. The bulbs, 1000 tommasinius and 500 cream beauty were chosen as being particularly appealing to bees and will provide our honey bees with nectar and pollen on warm days in early spring. Most of the bulbs were planted near to the bee sanctuary and others will brighten up the entrance to the garden.


Crocus tommasinianus (Woodland Crocus, Tommasini’s Crocus, early crocus)



Our new plot at Marlpit Community Garden – October 2015

Just wanted to say a big “Thank you for having us!”
We had so much fun on our new plot!

Before the Beaman family started on their new plot

Before we started on our new plot

After the Beaman family had dug their new plot

After the Beaman family had dug their new plot

We spent few hours with the children couple of weeks ago (when we first got it) – we dug it all up and planted out blueberry bush at the end .
And now it is all ready for planting!

The Beamans

Pumpkin Day 2015 at Marlpit

Mahesh with a barrow-load of pumpkins

Mahesh with a barrow-load of pumpkins

Pumpkin day on 31st October at Marlpit Community Garden was celebrated by children’s activities based around Halloween and a delicious meal made from our own seasonal produce.

Mahesh was at the garden early to harvest pumpkins, potatoes and squashes.

Pumpkins and "messy play"

Jana Hrusovska organised activities for children including messy pumpkin play, potato cut printing, making outsize spiders, face painting and a nature trail.

A pumpkin and our Nature Trail game

Jana’s Nature Trail game

A number of children with their parents dropped in during the morning and had a great time trying out the different games. Click here to see more photos.

Some visitors explored the garden and watched our bees busily bringing home nectar and pollen from the late flowering ivy.


Pumpkin curry - made by Mahesh and Rochelle

Pumpkin curry – made by Mahesh and Rochelle

It was a short walk to the Marlpit Community Centre to sample the pumpkin curry, rice and chips that Mahesh and Rochelle had cooked from our own home grown produce.

Pumpkin home for spiders

“Pumpkin à l’araignée “


A few of us met to plant trees at Marlpit Community Garden on Tuesday 10 November 2015.
Click on any photo and see a slideshow.

Trees ready for planting at Marlpit Community Garden

Trees ready for planting – the plan is Dogwood by the gate; Hazel in the coppice; Hawthorn, Rowan and birch in the hedges.

These are the spiral tree-guards.

Corylus avelana, Hazel to plant for coppicing in years to come.
Possibly Cherry?

Possibly Cherry?

Very young whips of Cornus sanguinea, Common Dogwood, to be planted near the gate.

Betula pendula, Birch will be used in the hedge and herbally.

Very young saplings are known as “whips”.

Sorbus aucuparia, Rowan – food for bees and birds.

What did I find in this discarded crisp bag?

Clearing up litter by the dung heap, what's this?

Clearing up litter by the dung heap, what’s this?

Lunch was provided by Mahesh and enjoyed by all present. As it was still sunny, we ate in the shade of the shelter and enjoyed the view of trees and horses and occasional birds (see Chris Keene’s item on the blog.)


Welcome once more to GO2

If you haven’t been given a membership card, there is one waiting in the Bluebell Shed. Just ask when you are next at the allotments, or at Marlpit Community Garden.

Remember “First Sunday Food” is on 1st November at 1pm

After the “Big Shed Tidy” finishes at noon, the other team leaders will take a few minutes to explain what their team does, before the Food Team start to set up for the 1pm food-sharing lunch. We hope you’ll stay, and if you can, please bring a dish to share.
You don’t have to be there all morning, but it would be useful to be there at 12 and it would certainly be nice to come to lunch and meet other members. If it rains we’ll eat inside.

Best wishes,

Christine – Admin Team

“Virtual GO2 – an introduction to our website.

A mnemonic image for you

Some pages of are for public information – others are for members only, and are protected by one password for all.  One such page is our “Members Area” blog, which has a front page showing all current news items (“posts”) shown much like the newsletter.

Alongside the blog is a menu leading to over 100 members pages; a table summarising the 8 most recent posts and a list of categories for searching the website.

When you follow a link in the newsletter or elsewhere, it may take you to the Members Area and your computer can “remember” the password for you for some weeks, so you may not be aware that you are reading a Members page. You’ll find links everywhere to everything, and Google can help you find your way round it.

The website has 216 pages, 243 posts and 1200 other media items – pictures and documents – please investigate – and let me know what you think. If you have ideas you would like to share or (better still) the skills to help manage this, do let me know. We use WordPresswordpress-login for the website and MailChimpmailchimp-loginfor the newsletter – both of these are designed to be easy to learn, and free to use.


Christine who leads the Admin Team at GO2 Bluebell South Allotments has been welcoming all new members by email with a new “Welcome” attachment document. If you wish to read it, it’s on the website along with many others.