A day at Marigold Cottage Garden


The group with Stephanie Lee

The members of WEA Sutton on Sea visited Marigold Cottage Garden on 12 September 2016 as part of their course ‘This Month in the Garden’.

The group were invited to the garden by owner Stephanie Lee .


The group enjoying some late summer sunshine

Stephanie showed the group around and then demonstrated how she propagates plants to use in the garden and for sale. She then let them collect material for cuttings and gave them some seeds to take away and sow at home. Dave Newman, the tutor for the course, then showed people how to make the material into cutting which the group were allowed to take home.


propogating cuttings with tutor Dave Newman

In conclusion it was a very good morning enjoyed by all, with everyone getting involved and gaining some potential plants to take home.

For further details of Marigold Cottage Garden, which is open to the public at certain times of year,  please click here.

The WEA offer gardening courses throughout the year  around our region including  Sutton on Sea. For further details please see the current brochure  by clicking on this link.

Alternatively ring the office on 01522 522 472.

A visit to Thistles Market Garden

Students are always hard at work out at our partner unit Thistles Market Garden in Sutterton. In addition to tending the plants they also brush up on their numeracy and literacy skills once a week on a course with our  tutor Don Jenkins.


Planters made from railway sleepers and filled with a variety of plants

The organisation is managed by Liz and Sue who have shown admirable determination and commitment to steadily build up the site from a piece of overgrown land. They describe Thistles as a horticultural day service for adults with learning disabilities. Service users will learn a variety of skills including growing from seed, potting on, weeding,  producing hanging baskets and lawn maintenance. In addition, service users benefit from increased happiness, life skills, friendship and a sense of belonging to a team.

Thanks to the resourcefulness of these two ladies the site now has new paths, classroom space, an office, a kitchen and a log cabin as well as multiple sheds …most impressive!


Thistles, Sutterton

I was shown around the site by two students, Andrew and Kate. The students showed me their favourite plants (strawberries, cabbage,tomatoes, and sweetcorn to name a few! ) and explained how they care for the tender plants in the polytunnels as well as showing the impressive raised bed area packed full of flowers and scented herbs.


My excellent tour guides on a very hot day… before we got back in the shade of the classroom!


It seems the students really enjoy the process of plant and vegetable cultivation as well as producing items to sell for funds for ongoing projects. There are big plans ahead for an improved kitchen area, so  produce can be cooked on the site.


Grape vines in the polytunnel


The students have also created a small orchard with a wealth of different apple varieties which Andrew described as being hard work but worth it!


The Apple Orchard and quiet seating area


Don’s class begins on a Tuesday afternoon after lunch. Students begin the session with a matching pictures quiz often themed around a topic. The week before my visit it had been a sports theme however this week the topic was ladies accessories. The session progresses with  maths, writing and reading tasks. Each task is tailored to the individual so that they can learn at their own pace.


A riot of activity and colour! the classroom area is the bottom building

Students have their achievements recorded and praised by Don and the students said they feel happy with their progress.  One student explained how learning to count in multiples of two had helped her learn how to check and budget her money independently and this made her feel more  confident. She now shares the skills she has learned from the course with her housemates. Another student can now recognise and read road signs as a result of the course which he was unable to do before.


Students clearly work very hard to make progress and achieve good results and the Thistles staff and tutor Don justifiably feel extremely proud of them.

In fact..(no blushing Don! ) Don himself  was recently inspected and rated as an outstanding tutor and the students and WEA  feel this praise was richly deserved!

As the session drew to a close there was time for a lesson recap and then a quick recall quiz (personally I struggled to keep up…but it was quite hot and I was flagging by then!) then it was time for home.

Thistles is a wonderful, colourful, busy and positive place. I thoroughly enjoyed my afternoon with the friendly people there and I hope to visit again soon.


What is a weed… but a flower in the wrong place? Thistles used to cover the site


Urban Peregrine Falcons


On many of the cathedrals around the country pairs of Peregrine Falcons are beginning to lay this year’s eggs.

Most years a pair nest at Lincoln Cathedral and their progress can be read about here.

Live webcams enabling us to watch the birds throughout the breeding season have been installed at some of the country’s cathedrals.

Here is the link to the webcam at Norwich


twitter.png you can follow the progress of the Norwich birds and their chicks with live Twitter updates @Norwichperegrin  or https://twitter.com/norwichperegrin

RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch 2016

clip-art-binocular-492113.jpg  It is nearly time for the Big Garden Birdwatch 2016

More than half a million people from across the UK are set to take part by counting the birds in their gardens over the weekend of 30-31 January, 2016. Why not join them?

Find out more and how to take part here

The House Sparrow was top in 2015  sparrow

The 2015 results showed an increase in most of the top 20 birds compared with 2014, thanks to over 585,000 pairs of eyes watching their gardens.

The house sparrow retained top spot – who will be this year’s hero?


*** Details of our Gardening for wildlife course offered this autumn in Sutton on Sea can be found at the bottom of this article ***


Take part in this year’s Big Butterfly count

July 17th – August 9th

EVERYONE CAN TAKE PART … Adults, children and even those who think they are still children

 The big butterfly count is a nationwide survey aimed at helping us assess the health of our environment. It was launched in 2010 and has rapidly become the world’s biggest survey of butterflies. Over 44,000 people took part in 2014, counting almost 560,000 individual butterflies and day-flying moths across the UK (see the 2004 results)

Why count butterflies?                    butterfly

Butterflies react very quickly to change in their environment which makes them excellent biodiversity indicators. Butterfly declines are an early warning for other wildlife losses.

That’s why counting butterflies can be described as taking the pulse of nature.

The count will also assist us in identifying trends in species that will help us plan how to protect butterflies from extinction, as well as understand the effect of climate change on wildlife.

How to take part

    1. Visit http://bigbutterflycount.org and download a butterfly identification chart – it can also be downloaded as an App to your Smartphone.
    2. Simply count butterflies for 15 minutes during bright (preferably sunny) weather during the big butterfly count. We have chosen this time of year because most butterflies are at the adult stage of their lifecycle, so more likely to be seen. Records are welcome from anywhere: from parks, school grounds and gardens, to fields and forests.
    3. Submit your findings to the Big Butterfly Count website.


Our tutor David Newman will be teaching his Gardening for wildlife course at Sutton on Sea Methodist Church Station Rd LN12 2HJ on Monday mornings 10am-12.40pm

The course runs for 5 meetings and begins on 5th October. The cost is £50.05p or free if you are in receipt of means tested beneifts. Course ID is C2335013

For more details email kay.raby@mypostoffice.co.uk