A Busy Summer for TMAEG

The Park Gateway, High Street – June 2015. Through the combined efforts of the businesses, residents and TMAEG volunteers, and working with the two Councils, this area is being steadily improved.

The Park Gateway, High Street – June 2015. Through the combined efforts of the businesses, residents and TMAEG volunteers, and working with the two Councils, this area is being steadily improved.

As spring turned has turned into summer, TMAEG has continued with its mix of environmental projects and visits.  As in previous years, that change of seasons has marked a switch in emphasis for our work, from the winter’s landscape management of our wildlife areas to gardening projects, particularly in the village centre;  this year we have been concentrating on flower tubs, as can be seen in our images of  Ashbrook School and of the Park Gateway area.  At the same time, we have sought to keep our other areas tidy and, to that end, we have done a litter pick along the Clay Hill to Downland section of the Ashbrook Corridor and we have cut back concentrations of cow parsley once this has finished flowering.

We have also organised well received visits to the new Parks Trust education centre at Howe Park Wood (which included a guided walk within the wood) and to The National Museum of Computing at Bletchley Park.  And in June a large group of members were treated to an evening tour of Stony in Bloom’s planting projects, amidst magnificent midsummer weather!    

Our final commitment for the summer season took the form of a TMAEG stall at ‘Party in the Park’ on July 11.  We attracted a great deal of interest and a record number of new members.  Among the things that drew people in were an aerial photograph of Two Mile Ash which challenged visitors to pinpoint their own homes and our new Environmental Projects Plan which displays the locations of all the projects that we have worked upon over four years.  Our intention is to update this year by year so that we maintain a complete record.  

o o o 

The TMAEG flower tub – these 30cm tubs were planted up by TMAEG volunteers in May 2015 and sold to businesses and residents within the target village centre areas.

The TMAEG flower tub

The TMAEG flower tub

 

Our visit to The National Museum of Computing in March 2015.

The National Museum of Computing

The National Museum of Computing

 

TMAEG’s visit to Stony Stratford to see the achievements of Stony in Bloom.

Stony in Bloom

Stony in Bloom

 

It has long been TMAEG’s intention to produce a plan showing the locations of our many schemes. We were delighted to be able to launch such a map at Party in the Park.  The Environmental Projects Plan shows the extent of our work over four years, how this is grouped within two green corridors and six other areas, and the main concentrations of our various activities – most recently the provision of flower tubs.  TMAEG acknowledges the help given by The Parks Trust in preparing the Projects Plan.

The Environmental Projects Plan

The Environmental Projects Plan

Please click the plan for a larger version of the map in PDF format.

 

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Milesmere Woodland Path – Year Four

Spreading the new chippings starting at the western end

Spreading the new chippings starting at the western end

TMAEG’s events programme for 2015 has been as full as ever, with a combination of brand new and familiar projects where the emphasis is on keeping good what we have started.  Typical of the latter brand is the Milesmere Woodland Path which runs from the northern end of Milesmere to the ‘green ride’ beyond which is Watling Street.  This simple wood chip path with its log margins has become a popular walking route and part of a circuit for local people.

So on the last Saturday of February a team of eleven people gave the path a coat of new chippings supplied by one of the Council’s contractors.  We also cut back the encroaching brambles and other vegetation and, as can be seen from the photographs, the effect is striking.  Looking ahead to Year  Five we hope to establish more spring bulbs and other wildflowers in an opening alongside the path.

 

Our ever enthusiastic volunteers!

Our ever enthusiastic volunteers!

A well-earned refreshments break

A well-earned refreshments break

The finished result as seen from the Milesmere end

The finished result as seen from the Milesmere end

 

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Visit to the Linford Lakes Nature Reserve (the Hanson Centre)

21 February 2015

Enjoying the view from one of the three hides

Enjoying the view from one of the three hides

A review from one of our group, Daphne Tibbles

A group of twelve from TMAEG and MK Green Gym visited The Hanson Centre with our guide Chris Ward of the RSPB on a beautiful sunny morning in mid-February. We saw a variety of birds including plovers, shovelers, golden eye, tufted ducks, pochard and two very rare smew. A bittern was spotted in this area in January. We also saw heron which nest here and only one other area in MK at Willen Lake. Lots of garden birds visited the feeders, including a marsh tit.

Although we weren’t able to capture pictures of birds on this occasion, we came across some Scarlet Elf (Sarcoscypha) edible fungi which looked very vibrant.

A very worthwhile and enjoyable day was had by all and we would definitely recommend you visit the Centre soon.

Scarlet elf  fungus  (Sarcoscypha) – photo by Daphne Tibbles

Scarlet elf fungus (Sarcoscypha) – photo by Daphne Tibbles

One of the feeders seen from the Woodland Hide – can you spot the diminutive Marsh Tit?

One of the feeders seen from the Woodland Hide – can you spot the diminutive Marsh Tit?

Male Smew – source Wikipedia

Male Smew – source Wikipedia

 

A reflection on the morning from Kevin Reed

So off we went to Linford Lakes
Binoculars in hand
Where waterfowl and waders fly
And then decide to land

Chris from the RSPB
Was on hand to give us hope
Did you see that oystercatcher
In Chris’s telescope!!

He has the knowledge and advice
To really set the mood
The smaller birds were also fun
As they tucked into their food

The setting and tranquility
So quiet and serene
Spring migrants start to set up home
You wonder where they’ve been

From crested grebes to herons
From the egret to the fox
This haven of our wildlife
Must tick the viewing box

And thanks to all the Hanson staff
For their hospitality
Now how about some Lottery funding
I’m sure you all agree!!

Another season – a view across the nature reserve – thanks to Dave Barratt

Another season – a view across the nature reserve – thanks to Dave Barratt

 

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Third Year Celebration – One Hundred Households!

TMAEG has just reached a key milestone – we now have one hundred Two Mile Ash households as members. That is quite an achievement after just three years – and in the face of there being so many other competing priorities in people’s lives.

Our ‘century’ was achieved in the run up to our Third Year Celebration and AGM held at Holy Cross Church on Saturday 20th September. It was secured through the membership of Fairways’ resident Mary Parker. In presenting her with a special award at the Celebration, our guest, the Deputy Mayor for Milton Keynes, Keith McLean acknowledged that this was an important milestone for TMAEG. And he commended us generally for our activities. ‘You ooze enthusiasm’, he said.

Mary Parker receiving a Four Seasons mug from the Deputy Mayor Cllr Keith McLean

Mary Parker receiving a Four Seasons mug from the Deputy Mayor Cllr Keith McLean

We should note that the 100 households equate to over 180 people, so our next milestone to aim for will be that double century in terms of individual members!  We have Pavla largely to thank for this success;  going forward she would very much appreciate ideas from our existing membership on new people who might like to join us – just give her a ring on 561365 if you know of anyone.

The Photographic Competition

The Celebration also enabled us to show the results of our first Photographic Competition and thanks are due to Dave Barratt who organised it and to Ann and Tom Gaunt and Rita Barratt who judged the entries. There were 27 in all. The Deputy Mayor announced the three senior and one junior prize winners who were awarded a coffee mug bearing their own entry. Here are the winning entries:

Photographic Competition Winners

Photographic Competition Winners

Thanks are due to all our entrants for their great photos and their enthusiasm.

Open Gardens 2014

The Deputy Mayor also met a number of our members who had opened their gardens in the second Two Mile Ash Open Gardens event. A display was on show at the meeting and we hope to place a version of this on the website shortly.

This year our event was spread over two days, involving 12 gardens in total. Despite the torrential downpour at the start of each session, we attracted 148 visitors and there were 1,179 individual visits. A further benefit was that a total of £400.75 was collected for charities supported by the individual gardeners.

Smita and Harshad’s garden

Smita and Harshad’s garden

Smita, who with Harshad has now displayed her garden on two occasions, spoke passionately about the therapeutic benefits of gardening at a time when many of us are overstressed by the pressures of modern life. So our work with TMAEG is not just about improving the environment, it is about us, our happiness and our well-being.

Thanks are due to our gardeners and to Mercure Milton Keynes Abbey Hill Hotel and TMA Gas & Heating Ltd for their valuable sponsorship. Also to Pavla, Bill Forster, Dave Barratt and others for their work in organising the scheme and in publicising and displaying it, and to everyone who visited the 12 homes and thus supported Open Gardens 2014.

Other Achievements

The TMAEG team gave a brief presentation of the many other things accomplished by TMAEG – notably, the work that we (and individual residents) did in response to the school expansion planning application, on the Big Tree Plant, the golf course (in conjunction with MK Green Gym), Milesmere Woodland Path, the Park Gateway, and at Kepwick, as well as the bulb planting by Ashbrook school children.

We were also involved in Britain in Bloom, the judges viewing three of our environmental schemes as part of their tour of Milton Keynes. It was gratifying to learn that the city received a Silver Gilt Award.

We also mounted three social events – an evening at the Calcutta Brasserie in December 2013, a visit with Green Gym members to the recycling plant (MRF) and a social evening at the Golf Centre.

Catering for the Third Year Celebration

Special thanks are due to Corinne and Andrew who, with Lin, organised the afternoon tea. And we are grateful to all those who provided the splendid cakes.

The Annual General Meeting

In the more formal part of our gathering, Liz Ruthven as Treasurer presented our accounts which were approved by the meeting. Thanks are due to Liz for her diligent work in managing the finances of our expanding organisation.

Members also resolved to support the concept of a business membership for TMAEG and they approved changes to our Constitution which enable this and some other small changes to be made. The revised Constitution appears on our website here.

In his final remarks as TMAEG Chair, Chris Gossop thanked all the members of the TMAEG Committee for their hard work over the year. Two committee members were standing down, Tom Gaunt who had served from the start and also Ferial Hyde who had to stand down for personal reasons – both had done invaluable work for TMAEG. Thanks are also due to our webmaster Chris Monk, to our environmental volunteers and to all our members for the support they have provided.

A new Committee was elected, with Dave Barratt as Chair, Chris Gossop as Secretary, and Liz Ruthven as Treasurer. The other members are Ann Gaunt, Corinne Hay, Pavla Gossop (as now) and Peter Blyth who also joins us. In his statement to members as the new Chair, Dave said that the group was looking forward to another great year of environmental achievements.

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Three More Enhancement Sessions in our Village Centre

TMAEG’s volunteers continue to be very busy in our practical action to improve or maintain the local environment and here are three recent stories. In all three cases we think that the differences between the before and after situations are striking and we hope you like the results.

1. Park Gateway Project – We started this scheme last year in partnership with Abbey Hill Parish Council – which provided the two planters – with the businesses and residential occupiers which front this pedestrian link to our Local Park, and with Milton Keynes Council which has provided much practical support. Working together, we have greatly improved the appearance of this important space in the village centre. Our pictures show the combined effect.

Four gardeners from our Tuesday Team

Four gardeners from our Tuesday Team

One of the planters – surrounding slabs cleaned up by the volunteers.

One of the planters – surrounding slabs cleaned up by the volunteers

 

One of the front gardens, tidied and planted up by the new occupants

One of the front gardens, tidied and planted up by the new occupants

 

The combined result – an enhanced gateway to the park

The combined result – an enhanced gateway to the park

 

Two comments from our volunteers:

On Tuesday 13 May, five members of the Tuesday afternoon group continued with the enhancement project. There was much digging, weeding, scraping, sweeping, removing of rubbish (and the obligatory puffing and grunting!).Then the result of several hours hard work was evident. The colourful Valerian was complemented by the newly uncovered yellow spurge and fragrant lemon balm. With equal effort from the residents and the businesses, the area looks well tended and is a pleasure to behold.      Margaret

TMAEG kinship : Working with TMAEG is an experience I would encourage others to have. The working tools and all other admin is nicely sorted out, there are tea and biscuits, plenty of fresh air, exercise and communal friendliness to have and, most importantly, one begins to feel a sense of community.    Smita

 

2. Ashbrook School   Through our Tuesday Team in particular we seek to keep up the maintenance of the schemes we have started upon. This area of school owned land is a good example; with two sessions a year we seek to keep it neat and tidy.

 

Before – landscaping recently smothered by explosive growth of ‘cleavers’ -  the gardener’s bane this spring?

Before – landscaping recently smothered by explosive growth of ‘cleavers’ – the gardener’s bane this spring?

During - An afternoon’s gardening well underway

During – An afternoon’s gardening well underway

After – once again a tidy border

After – once again a tidy border

3. Kepwick     One by one, we are targeting local eyesores as part of a general enhancement of this characterful village centre street.  On Saturday 7 June, nine TMAEG volunteers, including two from the street itself,  worked through heavy rain to tidy up one of Kepwick’s ‘squares’ and the footpath links to the local shops.    This was our second project morning in Kepwick and, already, we are making inroads.

Before – a prominent but neglected corner

Before – a prominent but neglected corner

Before - an overgrown footpath  leading to the High Street

Before – an overgrown footpath leading to the High Street

During - five very wet volunteers working on these two areas

During – five very wet volunteers working on these two areas

The results – a much tidier corner and pedestrian route through to the High Street.

The results – a much tidier corner and pedestrian route through to the High Street.

We are very grateful to Fraser Davidson and his young offenders from Oakhill Secure Training Centre for their associated work in restoring and painting the bollards – a valuable finishing touch to the TMAEG volunteers work just the day before.

The results - a tidied up shrub bed and a cleaned up footpath

The results – a tidied up shrub bed and a cleaned up footpath

TMAEG’s third scheme of the day – a tidied up flower bed in a prominent position on the square.

TMAEG’s third scheme of the day – a tidied up flower bed in a prominent position on the square.

TMAEG Volunteers enjoying a well earned break and shelter - at last

TMAEG Volunteers enjoying a well earned break and shelter – at last

Wet, wet, wet, however despite the deluge the  Dunkirk spirit kept us going and the results of great team work, able supervision and a hot cup of coffee are in evidence.  Lydia

 

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TMAEG volunteers begin work in Kepwick

Following our success in other parts of Two Mile Ash, your local environmental group has started a new project – an enhancement scheme for Kepwick. This long residential street that runs parallel to the High Street in the village centre forms part of a significant pedestrian route leading to and from Great Holm. Kepwick is an attractive, intimate place with many well kept properties, however there are examples of overgrown vegetation, uncared for ‘no-man’s land and other things which need tidying up.

A view along Kepwick looking towards Corn Hill

A view along Kepwick looking towards Corn Hill

 

An eyesore in the very centre of Kepwick

An eyesore in the very centre of Kepwick

 

Our work began on Saturday 26 April when a ten strong team which included local residents tackled the turning area at the eastern end of Kepwick, the associated woodland edge and the footpath connection to Capian Walk. In a little over two hours, our hard working volunteers transformed the environment in this area – some ‘before’, ‘during’ and ‘after’ pictures follow.

Before – the untidy footpath entrance from Capian Walk

Before – the untidy footpath entrance from Capian Walk

 

During – enhancing the route into Kepwick

During – enhancing the route into Kepwick

 

During – scraping flagstones and weeding the borders

During – scraping flagstones and weeding the borders

 

Before – overgrown edge to the turning area

Before – overgrown edge to the turning area

Before – overgrown woodland edge with ‘out of control’ tree saplings

Before – overgrown woodland edge with ‘out of control’ tree saplings

After cutting back – a new edge and a rediscovered section of footpath

After cutting back – a new edge and a rediscovered section of footpath

After – a tidier edge to lovely local woodland

After – a tidier edge to lovely local woodland

Some of our volunteers after a very successful morning

Some of our volunteers after a very successful morning

A Comment from Lydia –

It was a fun morning which combined working amongst greenery and friends and even a cup of coffee and a fig roll!. The feedback that we received from Two Mile Ashers, walking past was very encouraging and supportive and the morning was both enjoyable and was a very worthwhile voluntary project to become involved with. I am looking forward to a repeat performance, in the Kepwick area on Saturday 7th June

The Future
TMAEG plans a further working session in Kepwick on Saturday morning June 7th – starting at 0930 and . We plan to enhance some further areas of ‘public realm. We are also willing to work with individual residents where improvements on land associated with their property would benefit the street and area as a whole. Here is one example of earlier action by a local resident showing the sort of thing that might be done. But there will be many other possibilities.

Example  – colourful planting between the highway boundary and the householder’s garden

Example – colourful planting between the highway boundary and the householder’s garden

For further details of the Kepwick scheme, contact Ann on 265201 or Chris on 561365

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An enhanced footpath route alongside the Golf Course

Over two Saturdays in January, ten volunteers from TMAEG and the new Milton Keynes Green Gym carried out a major improvement of the public footpath that separates the housing in Leafield Rise and Cambron from Abbey Hill Golf Course to their west.  The work included scraping soil and vegetation from the path surface, cutting back untidy vegetation alongside the path, and the planting of guelder roses and small trees to fill some of the gaps. The group also created a woodland trail extension to the public footpath – this joins the High Street to the west of that path.

Before:  The heavily overgrown path which leads from the High Street to the northern end of Leafield Rise.

Before: The heavily overgrown path which leads from the High Street to the northern end of Leafield Rise.

During – trimming the hedgerow after opening up the footpath

During – trimming the hedgerow after opening up the footpath

Clearing a stretch of overgrown vegetation from a prominent corner along the hedge

Clearing a stretch of overgrown vegetation from a prominent corner along the hedge

A break!

Some of the volunteers – a well earned break!

Building

Building the woodland path

Completion

The path nearing completion

These improvements have been much welcomed by local residents.  Thanks are due to Abbey Hill Golf Centre for providing the logs for the woodland path,  to Milton Keynes Council who supplied the wood chippings that make up the surface, and to our volunteers without whose energy none of this would have been possible.

If you haven’t already done so, try the paths out and see where they lead you!

 

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The Big Tree Plant – and the culmination of two years’ work on the Stream Project

TMAEG’s major environmental scheme, the Stream Project reached an important stage on Saturday 14th  December when we took part in the national Big Tree Plant, a campaign by Defra and the Forestry Commission to plant some 150,000 trees across England between 2012 and 2015.  The free trees provided under this scheme enabled us to carry out new planting along the length of the Ash Brook between Stone Hill and Downland.  Allowing for the planning time involved at the start of the process, this event marks the culmination of two years’ work on this project  and this web story seeks to couple our achievements on December 14th with a picture of where we stand after those two years.

MP Iain Stewart viewing the scope of the project from the High Street

MP Iain Stewart viewing the scope of the project from the High Street

The Big Tree Plant

On our Big Tree Plant day, ten TMAEG volunteers planted a total of 43 one year old trees (whips) in nine locations along the Ash Brook.  The trees are of ten species: English Oak, Hornbeam, Sweet Chestnut, Wild Cherry, Rowan, Hazel, Blackthorn, Guelder Rose, Alder and Crab Apple.  Using ‘notch planting’, a spade is pushed hard into the ground and moved forward and backwards to create a void into which the delicate root structure of the young trees can be ‘swung’ and the tree positioned.  The spade is then gently removed and the ‘turf’ reinstated around the stem of the new tree.  Next, a plastic tubular protector is placed around it and a stake  hammered into the ground to secure the tree and its protecting tube. Watering should then be carried out.

Securing the first Oak tree

Securing the first Oak tree

This work and several related tasks was largely completed by our three teams by 11-30 in time for a well deserved break with hot drinks and mince pies.  At noon we were joined by our local MP, Iain Stewart who planted the final tree, an English Oak.  Iain also visited several of the planting areas and talked to individual volunteers. These included those involved in the planting of native flower species, for example English Bluebells which have been grown and nurtured in the ‘home nurseries’ provided by several our members; thanks to Rosina and Daphne in particular.

Iain Stewart planting his first ever tree

Iain Stewart planting his first ever tree

Some words by Margaret, one of our newest volunteers.

Some words by Margaret, one of our newest volunteers.

Two Years in the Making

We started our project in January 2012 with two days spent renovating the Stone Hill Pond.  That was done in conjunction with the Green Gym, part of the national organisation The Conservation Volunteers (TCV) which provided us with the initial  training and advice (From January 2014, this becomes a local group the Milton Keynes Green Gym led by TMAEG member Dave Barratt).

Based on this pilot scheme which secured a radical improvement to the pond and its immediate environment,  we expanded our remit to follow the adjacent Ash Brook – into which the pond drains – all the way along its course to Downland.    We  have now completed 17 working sessions over four  seasons, involving 30 of our members from Two Mile Ash, and a considerable number of Green Gym volunteers from outside the area.  On one of those sessions we worked with the Neighbourhood Action Group and officers from Milton Keynes Council to do a comprehensive litter pick along the corridor.  Our thanks are due to everyone involved.

Section by section

The Stone Hill Pond has now been worked on twice.  In addition to an annual ‘dredge’ to remove fallen leaves and branches, volunteers have tidied up the surrounds, cutting back brambles and the lower layer of ‘shrubbery’ under the trees in the copse, and we have planted wildflowers on the far side of the pond from the path.  Thus we have allowed more light to penetrate the pond area, benefitting wildlife as well as security, and we have added to the variety of plants present.

Also, working with Milton Keynes Council, we seem to have solved one of the two problems of the pond, its failure to fill up after rain;  that was solved by a flushing  out of the pipe which leads overflow water from a surface water drain close to the road.  A second problem remains;  that is of leakage from the bed of the pond which will need to be tackled if we are to maintain water levels throughout the year.   But awareness is one thing, how best to stem or at least reduce the leakage is another.

TMAEG volunteers touring the site with Iain Stewart

TMAEG volunteers touring the site with Iain Stewart

Pond to the High Street – during 2013, our volunteers have opened up four glades leading down to the stream bed.  Wildflower seeds have been sown in several of these areas and (previously hidden) Spanish Bluebells revealed in one of them.  Under the Big Tree Plant, three hazel trees were planted in the most recently created glade and foxglove plug plants put in around them.  These are biennials and, if they ‘take’, these should appear in the spring of 2015.

Local Park – High Street to Play Area –    A sizeable number of the work sessions have been devoted to this stretch of the stream corridor.  This is a very varied section of hedgerow but in places it has been dominated by massive tangles of one species, the Bramble – to the extent that the stream bed was obscured from view for many years.  Following much volunteer effort, most of that  bramble mass has been removed;  at the same time, along other stretches, bramble has been retained and is being managed as a bird habitat as well as for fruit picking. Blackthorn is another invasive plant;  this has been cut back in places to give room for other species, but one whole stretch has been kept because of its wildlife value and the beauty of its dazzling white flowers in the early spring.

Kevin planting trees where brambles once dominated

Kevin planting trees where brambles once dominated

For the Big Tree Plant, 18 trees, including English Oaks were planted along this section.  Six occupy a big gap near one of the bridges, where one of the major tangles of bramble was removed, while others have been inserted within the main body of the hedgerow.  The Oaks should ultimately replace a large ash tree, the future of which must remain uncertain through the possible spread to Milton Keynes of ash die back disease.  Among the other species, we have planted Sweet Chestnut, Hornbeam and Crab Apple trees which are newcomers to this stretch of hedge.

Planting in a gap in the hedgerow (Ken and Lydia)

Planting in a gap in the hedgerow (Ken and Lydia)

In parallel with the tree planting, we are developing a ‘Garden by the Bridge’ in which the steep bank down to the stream (by the Local Park entrance) is being cloaked with  woodland and other wildflowers.  Last April, we planted groups of English primroses on the lower parts of the slope;  these were given to us by the City Discovery Centre as surplus plants from  the grounds of Bradwell Abbey.  On December 14th, one of our teams supplemented its planting of bluebells further up the slope with Ox-Eye Daisies and Greater Knapweed towards the path edge. As they mature and spread, these plants should provide a succession of flowering from April onwards and this should be very visible to passers by, both from the path into the Park and from the adjacent redway.

Planting Bluebells in the ‘Garden by the Bridge’ (Sally, Christine, Pavla and Margaret)

Planting Bluebells in the ‘Garden by the Bridge’ (Sally, Christine, Pavla and Margaret)

Bluebell Planting - the ‘Garden by the Bridge’ (Margaret, Pavla and Christine)

Bluebell Planting – the ‘Garden by the Bridge’ (Margaret, Pavla and Christine)

Another sizeable group of trees was planted to the immediate east of the play area.  These will thicken out the present Willow and other planting along the stream bed and be particularly visible to users of the footpath link from Clay Hill.  Our volunteers planted four tree species in this area.  Closest to the stream they planted some Alders which are especially suited to wetter ground conditions.  There are also several Rowans and Wild Cherries and examples of a medium sized tree the Hornbeam, the leaves of which resemble those of the beech but are slightly more pointed.

Tree planting to the east of the Play Area (Ken, Lydia and Peter)

Tree planting to the east of the Play Area (Ken, Lydia and Peter)

Clay Hill to Downland – this is the lower end of the stream corridor, a section that runs between the grounds of Two Mile Ash School and the playing field to the northwest.  Here, TMAEG’s tree planting has been in three areas.   In the first, three Blackthorns were planted at a bend in the hedgerow with the aim of introducing some spring variety and, in the second, a line of Guelder Roses were put in close to the point where the footpath bridges the stream close to Downlands;  these supplement similar planting nearby. The third location is along the school boundary where two Oak trees have been planted in a gap.

The first Oak tree (Ken, Lydia and Peter)

The first Oak tree (Ken, Lydia and Peter)

Planting the Guelder Roses

Planting the Guelder Roses

Watering the Blackthorns

Watering the Blackthorns

The Future

It is a condition of the Big Tree Plant that the trees should be properly maintained and we will do that over the coming years until they are established.  Looking to 2014, we will schedule several  maintenance days during which we will remove vegetation from around the trees which can otherwise compete with and  slow their growth.  We will also tend the new wild flowers, removing brambles and other plants which threaten to encroach upon them. Beyond that, we will need to review the success (or otherwise) of what we have done.  That might lead perhaps to some further tree and  wildflower planting.  Another possibility will be to put up bird and bat boxes.  What do TMAEG members think?

Finishing touches at the end of a successful morning

Finishing touches at the end of a successful morning

 

Our thanks to Dave Barratt for the photos of the Big Tree Plant

 

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Open Gardens 2013

Two Mile Ash Open Gardens 2013:  a pictorial record

Click on the first slide for a larger picture and then use the forwards and backwards controls (bottom left and right), to navigate through the slide set.

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The Park Gateway Project, a ‘litter walk’ and wild flowers

The Park Gateway Project, a ‘litter walk’ and wild flowers – three stories from TMAEG

As spring has moved to summer, the Two Mile Ash Environmental Group has continued its work on priority areas within our community.  The stories that follow bring together various strands of our environmental work – action in our village centre through the Park Gateway Project, the targeting of litter, and boosting local biodiversity through the planting of native wildflowers.

The Park Gateway Project is about the enhancement of ‘the public realm’ along the pedestrian corridor that links the village centre to the Local Park (the ‘little street’ framed by Hair Culture and the dental practice).  It is about spreading the benefits of the successful works in the village centre to this entrance to the park, in time for the Party in the Park on July 6th.

In need of some TLC

In need of some TLC

Work to do between the slabs

Work to do between the slabs

The project involved negotiations with the two businesses, with residential owners and with Milton Keynes Council, and led up to an enhancement scheme that took place on Saturday 1 June.  Within an intensive three hour period, TMAEG volunteers cleaned up the paved areas, removing weeds and litter, and they also tidied up several front gardens and planting beds.

 

and work begins

and work begins

it is a team effort

it is a team effort

We have sought to be a ‘catalyst’ for improvement and already there are encouraging signs of action (or plans for action) by the two businesses and some of the householders.  Thus, plant tubs have appeared, bark chippings have been laid down by one owner and both businesses intend to display colourful plants on the fronts of their buildings.  And we are hopeful that agreement will be reached between the Parish Council and the businesses that will result in the placing of two large planters on the slabbed areas.

Volunteers pose for a job well done picture

Volunteers pose for a job well done picture

and it all looks so much better

and it all looks so much better

The Litter Walk involved TMAEG teaming up with Milton Keynes Council and the Neighbourhood Action Group to do a clean up of one of our green corridors, the Ash Brook.  Council staff and volunteers formed two groups to litter pick along the stream, working from the High Street and from Downlands, meeting in the middle. In just two hours we collected many bags of litter.

plenty of litter collected

plenty of litter collected

Our new volunteer, Smita, made the following comments:

I was apprehensive about meeting the group because I had not taken part in any activity as yet and did not know what sort of people were in the group. Meeting all of you took that away because you were welcoming and, like me, you seemed to want to do something rather than just talk !

a good days work

a good days work

The single most invigorating thing was to have been informed that we have ancient woodland and a real brook –Ash Brook ! I bet most people don’t know this.

Over the years we have considered moving to a village because we like ‘ancient’ and streams etc but the comforts of city/town life (like ‘Just Eat’ and work) and the traffic jams coming into Milton Keynes deterred us.

Now having Ash Brook and the woodland means we can have it all here…almost !

 

Our third story is about ecology and wildflower planting in Two Mile Ash.  Here we have several schemes in the making:

planting

planting

In May 2012, we planted plug plants on the ‘far’ side of the Stone Hill pond and already red campion is flourishing.  Thanks to Margaret Parrott, there are also some wild primroses there.

red campion

red campion

Some primroses that were growing in the old herb garden at Bradwell Abbey were gifted to TMAEG and these have been established along the Ash Brook – along the slope visible from the High Street redway.  Watch out for them next spring.

Glades have been opened up along the Ash Brook and our volunteers have sown wildflower seeds  – a ‘hedgerow mix’ for glades on the sunny side and a ‘woodland mix’ for the shadier glades.

There has been a bonus:  by opening up these areas we have revealed plants formerly buried and suppressed by brambles.  For example, bluebells are now flourishing in one of the new glades within the High Street to Stone Hill section of the Ash Brook.

bluebells

bluebells

Were they originally planted by the development corporation?   Perhaps one of our readers will know?  These appear to be of the Spanish rather than the English variety (Hyacynthoides nonscripta) which a number of us have been seeking to establish over the winter in ‘home gardens’.  This autumn, we expect to plant them out in small ‘colonies’.

 

 

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