Spring has sprung in Edinburgh (amongst other places!)

We’ve been having a busy couple of months with the Edinburgh Midweek Group this season, having completed several projects in and around Edinburgh and the Lothians, as well as a huge display of teamwork and hard work at the Seven Lochs project in Glasgow where we worked alongside the Stirling and Glasgow volunteers for eight weeks!

Team Edinburgh!

Volunteers from Edinburgh, Stirling and Glasgow Mid Week Groups.

Back in February the group started helping out at the beautiful Howden Walled Garden in Livingston. Here our aim was to create an edible walkway around the garden’s walls for the community to enjoy. The first task was to clear the walls and the ground to make room for some fruit trees and bushes – no easy feat! Fortunately someone had kindly left a supermarket trolley in the grounds to help us with the moving!

The volunteers were also kept busy repairing a beautiful walkway made of willow, for the local community to enjoy.

A few weeks later we returned to the garden to plant the fruit bushes; raspberries, gooseberries, cherries and strawberries, among a few others. What a difference!

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At the end of February we started work at the Seven Lochs Wetland Park in Glasgow; an urban nature project focused on protecting and enhancing the biodiversity and heritage of the wetland area, as well as providing a space for locals and visitors to enjoy (GCV Green Network Partnership).
Alongside the Stirling and Glasgow teams, our volunteers worked hard over the course of almost two months! We undertook a variety of tasks; preparing the land for wildflower planting, digging ponds and creating water channels, as well as some general woodland management work.

We also worked hard to improve the boardwalk at Hogganfield Park, placing non-slip grip strips (try saying that quickly three times!) along each plank of wood to make it safer for visitors to enjoy the beautiful views over the loch.

Our favourite project (or mine at least!) was helping to create floating bio-havens to sit on top of the loch. These bio-havens were made of recycled materials and adorned with various wetland plants (gathered by our volunteers). They will be providing a key shelter for birds and pond life on the loch.

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Across April and May we’ve been doing various bits and pieces of work at the Peebles Community Action Network (CAN) Garden. Our first big job was to help lay the wooden foundations of the new flower beds and path within their brand new poly tunnel.

The next time we visited we spent an amazingly sunny (and very warm!) couple of days building an incredible 16 new raised beds for the garden. It was a brilliant team effort and we had some fantastic help from the local families who would be using the beds, giving them the opportunity to see how they were built and to be part of the building process. Even the little ones were keen to help!

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Although we’ve been busy doing work elsewhere, we certainly haven’t forgotten about our local Edinburgh parks!
In the lovely Figgate Park near Portobello our volunteers helped with some path clearance, working to make the stairs safer and more accessible. We were also helping to stabilise the river bank by panting native shrubs and trees, which will also help to increase biodiversity and create wildlife habitats.

We’ve also been busy in Starbank Park this year, working closely with their ‘Friends Of’ group. Some of the tasks we’ve been involved in were neatening their path edges, trimming bed borders, clearing away vegetation in preparation for summer growth, lots and lots of weeding and, of course, the most coveted job; helping to turn and cycle their compost area.

Last but not least, we were in the beautiful Braidburn Valley Park doing path edging. What a difference we made!

It’s been a wonderful and jam-packed few months and we’re all looking forward to spending some more time in the sun (and the rain) over summer!

Kathryn (Volunteer Officer)

Become a Flood Warden Volunteer!

Do you want to learn more about your local area and help reduce flood risk?

Become a Flood Warden Volunteer!

We will provide all FREE training, support and guidance for the project to:

  • Monitor, record and clear debris from burns
  • Identify and record invasive non-native plant species

*No previous knowledge of the subject required*

Express an interest or find out more contact Amanda Malcolm, a.malcolm@tcv.org.uk or Mobile 07917 460488

TCV Stirling at 7 Lochs

The Stirling mid-week volunteer group have been busy on a new woodland management project to make a series of natural locations more accessible to the public, and to promote the presence and development of a greater variety of wildlife in the future.

Based at Hogganfield Park (Glasgow), Craigend Woods (near Airdrie) and Auchinlea Park (Glasgow), the group have had an exciting range of environments for their green fingers to work with at these 7 Lochs sites.

Their initiative has included tree thinning, crown lifting and collecting litter.

TCV expects that the short term benefits of this project will be to improve the aesthetics and accessibility of these areas so that the public can access the land more easily and enjoy its beauty as well as its wildlife.

The long term goal is to promote biodiversity, by planting, nurturing and managing fresh or long-established habitats, so that new or existing plants and animals can be born and flourish in these enviroments.

Update: The Dead Good Deadwood Survey

A new Citizen Science survey is in its last stages of development before being release to the world (hopefully!) It is of course, The Dead Good Deadwood Survey. The aim of the survey is to increase knowledge and understanding of the importance of deadwood to enable community woodland groups to make sustainable decisions for their woodland management. The survey not only focuses on deadwood but also allows participants to record its associated wildlife. Whether you are part of a community woodland group looking to improve your woodland, or simply a nature enthusiast wanting to get outside, this survey is a simple and fun way to learn about your environment and how to improve it for nature and for you.

The Forestry Commission suggests that healthy woodland (broadleaf or conifer) should have three standing and three fallen pieces of large (over 20cm in diameter and over 2m long) deadwood per hectare. The survey requires participants to walk a 100m section of woodland, noting down how many pieces of large deadwood they spot on the way.

The survey also asks you to stop at each piece of deadwood and look for living things on it, such as bugs and plants. It asks you feel the texture of the wood and to estimate the stage of decay the wood is at based on the structure of the wood and the creatures you find on it.

Gathering this information means you can work out if there is a healthy amount of deadwood but also a healthy variety of stages of decay present. It’s also suggests ways in which you can improve deadwood habitats in your woodland and the survey can be repeated after these improvements to see if the biodiversity on your site has increased. The survey is perfect for someone who wants to monitor the health of a particular site, or for people who simply want to get out and explore the woods, collecting research on the way.

So far the survey has been trialed with a number of community groups and has proven to be very popular.

The first of these groups was Shadoxhurst Baden Powel Scout group, a group of twelve scouts and their leaders who had come to join TCV for an event as part of National Tree Week. The scouts were already an outdoorsy bunch, but they admitted that they didn’t know just how valuable deadwood could be. One young man commented ‘well I guess there is more to deadwood than just setting it on fire’! It was lovely to see a group of young people become captivated by the subject of rotting wood and their highlight of the day was finding a leopard slug!

The survey was then trailed with a gardening group called Space to Grow, based in Maryhill in Glasgow. Space to Grow are used to trying out Citizen Science surveys with TCV and were happy to give us their thoughts on deadwood.

Do keep an eye on TCV’s website, social media, and blog pages to hear more about the dead good deadwood survey. While you’re waiting, there is some brilliant information and resources out there all about deadwood to inspire you:

http://treesforlife.org.uk/forest/dead-wood/  http://www.forestry.gov.uk/PDF/FCPG020.pdf/$FILE/FCPG020.pdf

Winter fun in Edinburgh

Throughout November and December the Edinburgh Mid Week volunteer group has been full of activity, visiting some old favourites along with some great new sites. We’ve been extremely lucky with the weather, with mostly beautiful sunny (but sometimes chilly days) and only a couple of days with rain (not that that would stop us!).

The amazing view from the Friary Community Garden

The amazing view from the Friary Community Garden

At the start of November the group were back at the wonderful Friary Community Garden in Inverkeithing. There’s always a great variety of tasks to keep the gang busy here and it’s always a pleasure working here as we are treated to a spectacular view across the Firth of Forth.

Modelling the latest in vegetable hat wear at the Friary Community Garden

Modelling the latest in vegetable hat wear at the Friary Community Garden

Working with a smile at the Friary

Working with a smile at the Friary

Re-purposing old material to create weed suppressors at the Friary Community Garden

Re-purposing old material to create weed suppressors at the Friary Community Garden

Speaking of amazing views, the volunteers have also been back to the beautiful Starbank Park in the north of Edinburgh numerous times. Here we’ve been continuing to help them to neaten up their footpath borders and to clear the autumn leaves around the park. The lovely Friends of Starbank Park are always on hand with cakes and other yummy treats to keep our volunteers going (which, given the steep incline of the park, is much needed after carting bag after bag of leaves up the hill to the compost bins!).

Fantastic rainbow photo opportunity at Starbank Park

Fantastic rainbow photo opportunity at Starbank Park

Leaves, leaves everywhere!

Leaves, leaves everywhere!

Clearing leaves with a fantastic view at Starbank Park

Clearing leaves with a fantastic view at Starbank Park

Continuing the theme of tasty treats to keep our volunteers going, we’ve been back to Gracemount Walled Garden several times where their amazing chef always has a small feast for us to enjoy at lunchtime. In order to earn their lunches the volunteers have been hard at work improving the footpath around the garden and continuing to maintain the woodland to the rear of the garden. Here the group have done a fantastic job of cutting back the trees and widening the footpath to improve access to the garden from the local park.

Beautiful autumnal scenes at Gracemount Walled Garden

Beautiful autumnal scenes at Gracemount Walled Garden

Monkeying around in the woodland at Gracemount

Monkeying around in the woodland at Gracemount

Brilliant before and after of some impressive footpath improvement at Gracemount Walled Garden

Brilliant before and after of some impressive footpath improvement at Gracemount Walled Garden

Footpath maintenance in action at Gracemount

Footpath maintenance in action at Gracemount

We’ve also had the pleasure of working at some fantastic new sites in the last couple of months. First off was Warriston Cemetery where the volunteers helped to plant lots of bulbs (mainly daffodils ready for next Spring) and helped to create some new dead hedging using material from around the cemetery.

Creating stakes for a dead hedge at Warriston Cemetery

Creating stakes for a dead hedge at Warriston Cemetery

Dead hedging at Warriston Cemetery

Dead hedging at Warriston Cemetery

Next up was the fantastic Figgate Park tucked away in the east of the city near Portobello. Here the volunteers spent the day helping to uncover some amazing bug hotels that had been completely overwhelmed by vegetation. It was a site that none of our volunteers had visited before and all of them were blown away by the beauty of the park and thoroughly enjoyed their day.

Smiles all round after a hard day's work at Figgate Park

Smiles all round after a hard day’s work at Figgate Park

Vegetation clearance at Figgate Park

Vegetation clearance at Figgate Park

Another beautiful autumnal scene at Figgate Park

Another beautiful autumnal scene at Figgate Park

Before and after of our work at Figgate Park

Before and after of our work at Figgate Park

Last but not least, the group had the chance to work right in the heart of Edinburgh’s city centre on Calton Hill, a popular tourist hot spot thanks to its brilliant views across the city. Here the volunteers primarily helped with footpath maintenance; straightening the path borders and clearing vegetation.

Hard at work on Calton Hill

Hard at work on Calton Hill

Lovely neat borders at Calton Hill

Lovely neat borders at Calton Hill

Now as winter closes in it’s almost time for us to hang up our waterproofs for the Christmas break, so from everyone here at TCV Edinburgh have a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Ali (Volunteer Officer)