More weeding and tidying…

Monday January 30th 2023

Sunny,dry weather again for our volunteers work session within the school grounds this morning👍🏻

At school around 8.30am ,signed in and headed through school to wildlife area …

First jobs were refilling the bird feeders plus cleaning the benches and tables as usual …

Mrs W arrived around 9.15am…after emptying the tubs of fruit peelings from nursery into the compost bins we gathered tools and garden waste bags and headed off again to work on the planted beds at the front of school 😇😇

Mrs W spent morning working on the large planted bed …where she was continuing to wed and remove lots of ivy …will try to remember to bring some shrubs from home for this bed plus some colourful spring bedding plants for the 2 planted pots, by the school reception door, next week….

Meanwhile I finished removing brambles and litter from the planted bed by the staffroom window then tidied and pruned the 2 wooden planters by the vehicle entry gate …also removed litter plus brambles and pruned back a clump of ornamental grasses on the planted bed by the front fence and finished by watering the 5 planters and pots …need to strim grass around shrubs on this bed ASAP !

We gathered tools and our bagged green waste and headed back to the wildlife area around 11am …stopping on the way to prune back some buddleijas by the nursery wall.

Back in the wildlife area we enjoyed our well earned hot drinks and biscuits in the sunshine before packing tools away and heading back to our homes👍🏻

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More pruning and tidying again ….

Monday January 23rd 2023

Dry,sunny and chilly weather for our volunteers work session gardening at school this morning ..

At school around 8.15am ,signed in and headed to wildlife area …as usual first jobs were refilling bird feeders and cleaning benches and tables ..

Mrs W joined me not long after 9am ..after emptying the fruit peelings from nursery into a compost bin we dragged the dumpy bags of prunings from last week along the top path then tipped them onto a compost pile near the far steps ..

Next we gathered tools and garden waste bags and headed off to do more work at the front of school …however we stopped on the way to start pruning off some of the numerous growing stems coming from the root stock of the 2 plum trees on the grassy bank above the playground …mysteriously the root stock stems were very prickly …Mrs W lopped off several stems and I chopped them up before adding them to a dumpy bag ..several stems need sawing off as too thick for lopping so will ask the caretaker to help us with sawing asap 👍🏻

We then headed off to the front of school …Mrs W soon busy removing lots more ivy from large planted bed by public footpath whilst I was working on the planted bed in car park ,the small planted bed by the front gates and the bed by the staff room window…still more work left to do at the front of school next time 👍🏻

We worked on until around 11am then collected tools etc and headed back to wildlife area ie dragging full dumpy bag of our gardening waste with us …bag was then dragged along top path and added to a compost pile ..

Time next for a belated refreshment break before we locked up and left for our homes 😇😇

NB Spring flowers in bloom seen this morning include hellebores,snowflakes,violets,witch hazel, celandines and snowdrops



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Mainly pruning and weeding 2 of the flower beds at front of school this morning…

Monday January 16th 2023

After lots of recent wet weather it was great to be gardening at school this morning in dry weather !

Arrived school before 8.30am ,signed in and headed to wildlife area as usual..

First jobs were refilling bird feeders and cleaning bird poo off tables and benches ..

Decided we’d work at front of school today so collected garden waste bags, dumpy bag, loppers, secateurs,gloves etc

So when Mrs Webber arrived after collecting the fruit peeling waste buckets from nursery ,which she emptied into a compost bin by the shed , we both headed off to work at the front of school 😇😇

We spent rest of work session clearing lots more ivy from 2 of the flower beds plus I pruned back more of the overgrown escallonia hedging and removed some bramble growth …we both also removed some litter from the flower beds…there is a litter bin nearby so no excuse for litter dropping.

We returned to the wildlife area with our tools etc and a full dumpy bag of gardening waste …just in time for a late refreshment break before it was time to leave school for our homes😇😇

We saw lots more snowdrops in bloom in the wildlife area this morning plus daffodil and bluebell leaves are emerging from the ground.

NB Absolutely great to see that Roly the caretaker has recently added a key pad to the outside of the gate near the staff room … therefore it’s now so much easier for us to get back down to the wildlife area after we’ve been working at the front of school 👍🏻

Next Monday we’ll be doing more weeding and tidying at the front of school again !

NO RESPONSE YET TO OUR POSTER AT FRONT OF SCHOOL AND PLEA ON PARENTS AT TCS MILL LANE facebook site FOR MORE SCHOOL PARENTS OR GRANDPARENTS TO JOIN OUR SCHOOL WILDLIFE AREA TEAM OF VOLUNTEERS…we work within the school grounds on Monday mornings …please ask at school reception office for more info or ring me Jean Gitsham 01626 779140 asap

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First 2023 work session

Monday January 9th 2023

Yippee back in school grounds at last ie working in school wildlife area this morning after several weeks off due to wet weather plus school Christmas holidays..

Thankfully barrier fencing by boiler house has been removed at long last so after signing in at reception I was able to walk through school and enter wildlife area via gate from lower playground 👍🏻

First job was refilling bird feeders and scraping plus sweeping bird poo off all benches and tables👍🏻

Just finished when Mrs Webber arrived to help …we took garden waste bags down to bank/slope below playground where caretaker has done some recent clearance work …we spent morning working on lower part of bank ..will probably take us months to tidy/clear this large area !

First job was dragging quite a few pruned branches and adding them to our woodpile in copse by the wildlife pond …rest of morning spent chopping up brambles and pulling out alexanders and ivy etc on lower part of the slope…all our garden waste was added to nearby compost piles 👍🏻


Discovered around a dozen tennis balls so far whilst doing our clearance work …they’ve been returned again to school for use in PE lessons 👍🏻

Saw lots of clumps of snowdrops in flower on the slope below the shed this morning plus signs of emerging daffodil leaves..

Mr Ball and staff late morning brought the nursery children into the wildlife area to explore and learn about nature ..


We have added to the fence at the front of school a laminated illustrated map of the school wildlife area along with a request for some school parents/grandparents to join our school wildlife area volunteer team asap …

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More weeding in school wildlife area…

Monday Dec 5th 2022

Despite extremely chilly weather Mrs W and I both turned up at school as usual to continue our weeding and annual tidying up work in the wildlife area …

I arrived around 8.15am signed in and headed to wildlife area via upper playground …first job was cleaning bird mess off tables and benches …wondering if tables would still get covered in bird mess if we moved them from present position 🤔

Decided to tackle alexander plants again ie pulling out with roots wherever possible ..had almost cleared the dozens of large and smaller plants in the copse to right of the pond by the time Mrs Webber arrived around 9.15am…Mrs Webber had again brought down the fruit peelings from nursery for our compost bins …

I moved on to weeding out the alexanders ,hogweeds and wood avens (all very invasive plants) from outside the pond fence area …green waste added to compost bins and piles..Mrs Webber was busy weeding out more alexanders from the lower part of the slope below the shed ..

We stopped for a well earned refreshment break mid morning then returned to more weeding ie Mrs W tackling alexanders near to picnic tables whilst I finished clearing alexanders,wood avens plus bramble growth from behind the wildlife pond

Due to very chilly weather we stopped work and tidied everything away earlier than usual ie around around 11.30am

NB still quite a lot more weeding to do before Christmas hols and there’s only one more Monday work session before the school breaks up for Xmas 🎄

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Weeding out invasive alexander plants ,pruning trees etc

Thursday Dec 1st 2022

Chris contacted yesterday to say he was able to help at school this morning👍

So I was at school again by 8.30am today …first job in wildlife area was cleaning mucky bird poo off tables and benches…always worse during winter months…

Decided to tackle weeding our hundreds of alexander selfsown seedlings growing on grass bank below shed..

Chris arrived 9.30am …after some discussion we decide to remove shade sail and rope by willows re H&S …whilst Chris busy with this task I swept pond boardwalk plus began removing numerous alexander seedlings from behind the pond ..

After our well earned refreshment break Chris sawed off a couple of branches overhanging top pathway…branches were added to nearest woodpile

Work session finished just after 11.30am

NB need to research grant funding asap as pond’s wooden boardwalk plus fence and gates are now rotten and need replacing…maybe need quote to find cost of using recycled plastic instead of wood?

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Monday November 28th 2022

Back in wildlife area working after week away on holiday plus at least 2 other work sessions cancelled due to wet weather!

Arrived school just after 8am …lower playground boiler house work still not completed so had to get into wildlife area via upper playground ..

First jobs were refilling bird feeders plus cleaning bird poo etc of tables and benches…also re tied shade sail as rope had broken due to recent heavy rains ..

On the plus side saw that the wildlife pond is filling again due to recent wet weather ie summer drought meant pond had been completely empty for weeks..

Decided to start removing Alexander and Wood Avens plants again at top of steps near shed ..both plants are a bit of a thug so need constant removal ie managing otherwise they’d take over the whole site😢

Started to remove large infestation of both Alexanders and Wood Avens from slope with buddleijas …job completed by end of work session 11.45am …all green waste added to nearby compost bin👍🏻

Mrs W arrived for work session around 9.30am …she’d again brought tubs of fruit peelings from nursery for our compost bins .Mrs W spent work session pruning back Michaelmas Daisy plants alongside top path ie by steps plus she pruned back the large Leycesteria shrub near the shed and also did some weeding alongside the steps

Weather conditions damp underfoot and somewhat chilly even for those wearing wellies and 2 pairs of socks 😇

NB lots more annual autumn/early winter clearance work still to complete in the wildlife area and on various planted beds around the school site …mild weather just seems to result in more vigorous weed and grass growth !😓

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Back again after half term break….

Monday October 31st 2022

Although it was a staff training day and children not back in school until tomorrow our 3 wildlife area volunteers were back at work this morning 👍🏻

Arrived first and headed to wildlife area …managed to empty lots of rainwater from sunshade sail by willow without getting soaked for a change 😇…then started to fill bird feeders and clean tables and benches …realised it was almost 9am so headed up to front of school to meet up with Marije…met Mrs W on way ..

All 3 of us went down into wildlife area…I finished filling bird feeders and scraping and sweeping tables and benches whilst Marije and Mrs W did a great job of bagging up lots of home made compost ie workmen putting in new equipment in boiler house had to access wildlife area re pipework and had unfortunately emptied one of our compost bins plus a water butt😢

Mrs W sorted out adding our new Devon Wildlife Trust sign to the wildlife area entrance gate leading from the main playground plus she added more laminated wildlife area maps to the gate leading down from the top playground and also to the noticeboard opposite our shed 👍🏻

Next we gathered tools and dumpy bags and headed up to car park and front of school areas …Marije chose to start tidying around the lower part of the car park …filling a dumpy bag with her gardening waste..

Mrs W was weeding and pruning on the planted bed on the right as you enter school via the pedestrians gate whilst I was busy pruning back escallonia and weeding out self sown tree saplings and brambles on planted bed opposite school kitchen ….still lots more to prune and tidy yet over next few weeks on that area …I also took out lots of weeds in gravel around school building walls…we filled another 1.5 dumpy bags with our gardening waste …bags emptied on compost piles in wildlife area apart from Marije’s bag which we’ll empty next time 👍🏻

NB great to see that recent wet weather means the water levels in our wildlife pond are rising again👍🏻

NB during the half term break family and friends of Mary & Bob Kennedy have been busy adding a new sensory garden area within the top playground area ie raised beds,trellis and fencing etc .

Mary & Bob helped me with clearance work and bonfires on Saturdays when I first started the school wildlife area project in 2004, they also helped with school summer fetes plus Mary was chair of Inverteign School Governors👍🏻

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Coppicing Hazel……

Monday October 17th 2022

Lovely sunny dry weather this morning thankfully after lots of rain yesterday afternoon..

At school by 8.30am ,signed in then headed through school to wildlife area …first job cleaning bird poo and leaves off tables and benches ….then headed back to front of school to meet with Marije our newest volunteer and escort her via school to the wildlife area..

We’d both come prepared with loppers and a saw to coppice a large Hazel growing on steep grassy bank below shed ..

Whilst I was getting tools ready Marije refilled some of the bird feeders in the wildlife area ..

We spent rest of morning ie 3 hours coppicing the Hazel …it was already multi stemmed as over last 18 years we’ve coppiced it at least a couple of times before ie cut all branches down to around 2 foot tall .

So whilst Marije was busy sawing off approx 30 branches I was labouring cutting most of the 20+foot tall branches in half …then using most of the branches to strengthen a barrier hedge between the red flowered horse chestnut and the walnut tree ..then remaining branches later added to wood pile in copse by wildlife pond …

Thankfully through lots of hard work from the pair of us we managed to complete the task of coppicing the Hazel tree this morning 😇😇

NB lots more lovely fungi spotted in the school wildlife area again today… plus great news as after yesterday’s rain we have some water back in our wildlife pond ….quite a relief as I’ve never seen it empty before and was beginning to think pond was damaged ..it seems lack of water was due to extreme 2022 summer drought conditions 👍🏻

NB Parents with children starting Reception class shortly have been invited to bring their children for a Gruffalo hunt in the school wildlife area this week …what a lovely idea they’ll have lots of fun exploring our super school wildlife area .

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Visitor/new volunteer plus watering,weeding and pruning

Monday October 10th 2022

At school around 815am ..watered flower pots and planters at front of school then around 8.30 am as arranged met up with Marije a Teignbridge/Teignmouth volunteer wildlife warden and visitor who I’d promised to show around the school grounds this morning .

After signing in we went through school ,opened the top gate into the wildlife area then headed to the outdoor learning centre at the bottom of the school field …showed Marije the great indoor and outdoor learning facilities plus the “overgrown area” alongside the Headway estate and the fruit trees above the playground …we then went back via school to the top entrance into the wildlife area ie usual entrance to wildlife area still fenced off whilst new boiler is being installed .

We’d only just gone down the steps into the wildlife area for a tour around when Mrs Webber arrived …after introductions Mrs W went off to add the fruit and veg peelings from nursery class to our compost bins before starting more clearance work ..

Marije and I continued with full tour of pathways around the wildlife area whilst I gave her a brief history of the school wildlife area site since I began the project in 2004

Marije kindly offered to stay on to help Mrs W and I with our clearance work …Mrs W was clearing back the ivy growth from behind the “outdoor classroom seating”,Marije was pulling out alexanders etc from the steep slope below the shed and I scraped the bird poo off the benches and tables ,pruned back the wild rose and pulled out lots of unwanted wood avens,nettles and alexanders etc

We finished our work session around 11.45am Marije and I went to see Mr Webber the school manager …I introduced Marije to him and he will email her the forms re her DBS as Marije will now be joining us as our latest school wildlife area volunteer 👍🏻

NB Marije took a couple of great photos of 2 lots of unusual fungi she came across in the wildlife area this morning…hopefully she’ll be able to add her photos to our website.

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