Monthly Archives: June 2012

What’s going on?….. Chadkirk in July

Thursday 5th July 7pm meeting about 2012 Chadkirk Festival
Saturday 7th July 1.15pm baton passing 2012 Olympics (Chadkirk)

Sunday 29th July 2012 Chadkirk Festival

The gardening team will be getting the garden looking good for the festival on
Thursday 19th July at 10am.

June sunshine

Those who were lucky enough to visit Chadkirk earlier in the week, were able to enjoy the walled garden in warm sunshine. New flowers are opening, while other blooms fade and fall. The flowers of the chives and welsh onions are continuing to attract bumble bees, but they have passed their peak; instead of dozens of bees there were just three or four feeding.

In the Walled Garden there are useful tips for visitors wanting to attract butterflies to their gardens at home. Hardy geraniums may attract the bees. However it’s the hesperis and valerian that seem to be attractive to butterflies. Both of these plants are easy to grow and are self-seeders.

Hesperis matronalis, known as sweet rocket, adds a lovely scent to the garden and brightens up a midsummer border.

BBC – Gardening: Plant Finder – Sweet rocket.

Chadkirk Bridge

The project manager must have been watching the weather forecast with interest. Strong winds and the bridge lift would be uncontrollable. Heavy rain and the causeway might be washed away. Again.

At 11.30 am the weather is fine and dry. The causeway that had been re-built 3 times already, had been re-constructed since the weekend. The photograph in the previous post shows what it looked like then: white water, a few stepping stones. However this causeway is vital for the work, as a routeway for workers and equipment moving between the two shores.

The 36m long bridge had been transported in two pieces from it’s place of manufacture in Huddersfield and then welded together on site. As it was hoisted off the ground, a little bit of last minute painting…

An hour later and the bridge is hoisted up and over the river and then suspended just above its final resting place.

Time for a bit of shimming! That’s engineering speak. It looked for all the world as if the two ends were resting on a pile of bricks while they made sure both sides were level. I was assured that it was a bit more technical than that. Once shimming is complete, the bridge will be brought to rest and the crane’s grasp released.

During the next few weeks the flooring of the bridge must be laid. It will be another month or so before the bridge is open for traffic. Ready for the official opening at the Chadkirk Festival? The team will be working to make that happen. Weather permitting.


The bridge building nears completion. A piece of paper taped to the notice board gives an update on the schedule. The date for swinging the bridge into place is Wednesday 20th June. After that date the view will be transformed.

Pond dipping

Those who clustered around the ponds had a rare treat.
These folk from the Cheshire Active Naturalists really know their stuff.
Both are professional ecologists: each with complementary expertise.
Both able to entertain and inform: each able to answer the questions showered on them by the members of the group.
How long do newts live?
Where are the frogs and toads when they are not in the pond?
What kind of bats live here?

Answers: upto 22 years (who knew?), in the woods and hedgerows, pipistrelles.

Although the ponds here were only created 2 years ago, they already support a rich variety of species. Wandering snails are a marker species and their presence shows that the environment is favourable as they have migrated into this new site. The abundance of snail eggs is also a sign of a healthy pond.

While the water around the edge of the pond felt warm to the touch (warmer than the air temperature), the absence of some pond species suggests retarded invertebrate emergence. (Blame the weather.) Perhaps you had to be an expert to be aware of this. For the rest of us there were plenty of other things to remark upon.

Rat-tailed maggot (hoverfly larvae)
Mayfly larvae
Pond Skater
Water Beetle
Damselfly nymph
Dragonfly nymph

Blue tailed damsel fly (female without a blue tail)

Pond snail
Wandering snail

Bird shell (broken pieces on the edge of the pond): food for snails providing essential calcium for their shell. This tiny wandering snail will make use of that as it grows to maturity.

There is restricted access to the site. This enables the ecology to develop with minimal disturbance. Access to the ponds is only permitted with close supervision from the warden. Handling newts can require particular expertise and certification. The newts that were netted and examined in the trays were carefully returned to the pond.

It was fascinating to see the 3 Newt species (Palmate, Smooth , Great Crested) and be able to observe them at close quarters. The flash of orange on the underbelly of the smooth newt (male) something that few of us had seen before.

As there were plenty of newt eggs on willow herb at the edge of the pond, there’s hope for a thriving population and every sign that these ponds have provided a new habitat and increased diversity at Chadkirk.

By 8pm, in the air above the pond, a cloud of gnats: food for bats that would emerge as darkness deepened. Studying bats can wait for another meeting. As the bats ate gnats, we were in the chapel chatting and having a snack of our own.

Next month: July 5th monthly meeting will be a busy time. Organisation and planning for the Chadkirk Festival on 29th July.

Springwatch comes to Romiley?

We may not have Bill Oddie, Kate Humble or Chris Packham. Or any other TV star.We do have our own team of local experts. The warden of the country park ably assisted by two volunteers from the Cheshire Active Naturalists took a group of Friends pond dipping last night. Better than any episode of Springwatch?

Caught in a flash

Chadkirk Plant Sale

Saturday 16th June is the day of the Chadkirk Plant Sale.

On the lawn outside the walled garden there will be two stalls and a group of friends.You are very welcome to join them.

The Friends of Chadkirk stall will be selling herbaceous perennials:cuttings propagated from their own gardens and seedlings grown from the RHS seedbank. Though some of these plants can be easy to find, amongst them will be some unusual varieties that are not so common. The sale of these plants will raise money to maintain and enhance the gardens.

The second stall will be a local grower.
A quick visit to the website suggests there will be an interesting range of plants to suit all types of garden.

Kim's Cottage Garden Plants.

A percentage of the take from these plants is donated to the Friends of Chadkirk.

That’s the good news.
The not so good news is that the forecast suggests that the volunteers and visitors will be braving the elements. Waterproofs the uniform of the day. Smiling through the rain. If those ladies on the barge can do it…..

For visitors to the Plant Sale, a short dash away, the Chapel will be open. Hot drinks will be on sale. Dry off, warm your hands on a hot mug and enjoy!

The plant sale starts at 2.30pm.
Buy plants or chat about Chadkirk.
Or do both.

On the agenda…

It was an inauspicious beginning.
I was running late. By the time I’d parked up and walked down the lane to the chapel, the meeting had started. Lifting the latch, the chapel door swung open and I peered inside. Empty chairs clustered round tables at one end of the chapel. At the other end, around the altar, a chatter of folk.

With shards of glass propped against a window, the group discuss the quality of the glass, the colours and texture. A local craftsman shows something of what is possible and the group begins to explore how his skills might contribute to the completion of a project.

This exchange of views gives a clue to the ambition of the Friends of Chadkirk. The project under discussion: the replacement of the east window. Is the present window anachronistic and inappropriate? Many visitors might say so. With this in mind, the plan is to replace it with a stained glass window which will enhance the chapel.

The project is in the early stages. Discussions of design and funding to be considered in future meetings.

When the chat by the alter ended, the group moved to consider the other items on the agenda. Somehow the group rattled through a range of issues. Somehow the meeting combined a relaxed style while covering the agenda with admirable efficiency. Somehow I found myself walking back to the car smiling in the moonlight, inhaling the damp spring air. If only all meetings could be like this!

Bombus lapidarius ?

Which flowers in the walled garden are attractive to bees?
Certainly not the rose in the last post. Though we find their scent attractive, the bees will fly on by. It was the chives, welsh onions and hardy geraniums that drew the bees. They had what the bees needed: nectar and pollen.

The bees in an earlier post – after the rain – might be bombus terrestris, the garden bumble bee. But bee identification can be tricky.

Feeding on an allium flower was a large bee with an orange tail. I wonder if this is Bombus lapidarius? It’s size suggests that it was a Queen Bee. Although a better photo would help, the BBCT website gives clear guidelines and it suggests that this is most likely a Red-tailed Bumble Bee Queen.

The only other lookalike candidate is bombus rupestris, the Red-tailed cuckoo bumblebee. The female has an all-black head, thorax and abdomen with an orange-red tail.

Perhaps you have more experience of Bee id? Can you tell if this is Bombus rupestris?

Common bumblebees | Bumblebee Conservation Trust.

Whereas Bombus lapidarius is found throughout the British Isles, it would be a sign that bombus rupestris was extending it’s range northwards if the bee in Chadkirk was identified as Bombus rupestris, the red-tailed cuckoo bumble bee.

Rose in bloom

On the west facing wall of the garden, a particularly beautiful rose grows.
I have enjoyed watching the buds unfurl.The flower emerging is lovely to look at, the scent heavenly. Though the display may have been affected by the recent rains, hold a flower stem close to your face and inhale : there’s a sense of summer.

I am curious to know the name of the rose.
Perhaps you grow it or know it?
If you don’t and have a space on a west facing wall, this may be the rose for you.