Archive for 20/03/2013

Nature lies dormant ahead of first day of spring

UK Spring Weather : Icicles on the side of a road in South Derbyshire

‘Conservationists report lack of budding plants, animals returning to hibernation and migrating birds held back by wintry weather

One hundred years ago, on the official first day of spring, the Anglo-Welsh war poet and naturalist Edward Thomas set off from Clapham Common in London to cycle and walk to the Quantock Hills in Somerset. The record of his journey, called In Pursuit of Spring, became a nature-writing classic, telling of exuberant chiffchaffs and house martins, daffodils and cowslips in full flower and “honeysuckle in such profusion as I had never before seen”.

Had Thomas taken the same route today, he might not have seen very much wildlife – and could well have frozen. Mist and fog, rain, a bitter north wind, and temperatures just above freezing are forecast for , the first “official” day of spring…’

PicPost: Lettuce Play


Looking back at January 2013, were my local climatic conditions much different to that of 2012?

Firstly, in the United Kingdom, 2012 began as “the year of the drought” * with recorded precipitation totalling 32.8mm in my neck of the woods. By comparison, January this time around looked like this.

In total, we received 61.6mm, which is still below the revised 1981 to 2010 mean by approximately 25% or so. What about the Air Temperatures?

January 2012 was mild in comparison with some 11 double-digit Fahrenheit Maximums being achieved back then and unsurprisingly a mean of 0.8cabove the long-term average, mentioned previously. This time around, January2013 saw the following daily Air temperature trend.

Due to almost two-thirds of January 2013 being in the cold to very cold category, it is unsurprising that the mean return of 4.0c was below the long-term average by 0.6c. As a result…

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Shine A Light

Norfolk Museums and Archaeological services recently received funding from the Esmee Fairbairn foundation, one of the UK’s largest independent grant-making foundations, to revamp our superstore. The superstore is a highly secure building where larger items in the Norfolk Museum’s reserve collections are held; think Asda but full of museum collections. The aim of the project is to reorganise the space and create access to the stored collection which will benefit both members of the public and museum staff.

We are currently working with a number of curators across the county to compile a list of objects that are our ‘stars of the stores’. Once the project is complete they will have pride of place in the museum store. These objects have been selected for a number of reasons including their popular appeal, historical significance and for the interesting stories they tell. As a sneaky preview we hope to include local…

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PicPost: Happy as Larry

Four Seasons in One Day – survey on climate change and the garden

The Royal Horticultural Society needs your help! They’ve partnered with the University of Reading, asking Britain’s gardeners to share your view on climate change and whether it will influence your choices and plans in the garden. Please complete the survey:

My next article on climate change and the garden will look at how we can be prepared for the unpredictable weather patterns that come with climate change – due out Monday 25th March.

PicPost: Sweet Tee Pea

127_2786The play landscape in this Norfolk village was created  to partly replace, as well as enhance an existing fenced play area with wooden and other equipment, which was set wide apart and surrounded by grass. This adjoins an area of the local recreation ground and a small area of woodland/hedgerow.

I was commissioned to provide design and specification plus project management advice. There was an initial budget of £50,000, funded by the Government Playbuilder programme plus contributions from local organisations.

The brief focused on three main objectives:

1. Expanding the play space – using the identified budget and the Design Brief as a starting point, expand and link the existing play space so as to utilise the play opportunities offered by the nearby wood/ hedgerow, allowing for future fundraising and community self-build.

 2. Enhancing Play Value –  increase the number and range of play opportunities for all abilities and ages, focusing on 8-13 year olds and with some provision for toddlers.

 3. Creating an attractive community space – create a welcoming, attractive space for children and adults which is coherent, provides interest through varied height and colour, creates a sense of discovery, uses existing/ donated play equipment (where possible), and landscape features to create play value and enhance the appearance of the space.

The resulting design extends the play area into a larger space (requiring the movement of a football pitch) and integrates this with retained, refurbished play equipment. Old fencing was removed and replaced with shrub planting and trees to indicate boundaries, an existing mound and new grass mounds were created to provide play features and to house a tunnel, wide slide with graded wheelchair access and aerial cableway. There is a wooden climbing feature, plus additional play equipment for toddlers and older children, including a simple wood slice spiral with spring bulbs planted to mark this, a log seating area/ social space, basket swing, spinners, and areas of longer grass. The project was substantially completed by June 2010.

Old School Gardener

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