July – Wildlife News June 18, 2012

Brimstone Moth

18. July. 2012

This beautiful, bright coloured moth, was spotted by one of our Wildlife Recorders, during last night’s moth trapping session.






Wren Chick, Martineau Gardens

July has been a wonderful month for bird watching. We’ve seen buzzards soaring overhead, even a sparrow hawk landing in our summer meadow. We’ve also seen several species of birds raising their young, including a family of wrens nesting in the eaves of the Pavilion (pictured here). The chicks have now fledged. It’s been a pleasure to see the attentive parents flitting from the building to the garden and back, for food.


A Wren Pops In

This inquisitive wren popped in the office last week. Here it is surveying the gardens. You can see how tiny it is, it’s nestled itself in between a plug and  a garden fork. Only the goldcrest is smaller than the wren.

Storytelling Programme Released June 18, 2012

The Martineau Gardens Storytelling Festival is taking place on Friday 22 and Saturday 23 June. Here’s a sneak preview of all that is planned. (Tickets are available on the gate, to find out more click here.)

Friday 22 June – Evening (gate opens 5.30pm)

Secret Stories of the Woods –(6.30pm – 7.30pm) from Storyteller Studio.

The trees have stories to tell – hear of Merlin’s magic; a bold knight; bewitched maidens.  Roam the Gardens and find the storytellers who will intrigue and enchant you.  And make some unusual jewellery

Storytelling Concert in the Marquee (8pm – 10pm)

Sir Gawaine and the Green Knight

Remember King Arthur?  Well Gawaine was one of his star knights, a great guy, always ready to stand up and be counted. But with the Green Knight he may have met his match. Told by Graham Langley, accompanied by Pam Bishop

(15-20 minute interval)

Stories from the Rainforest

Told by Ana Marie Lines, accompanied by Mark Magoo Robertson

Saturday 23 June  – Morning & Afternoon (gate opens 10 am)

From 10am until 5.30pm, a wide selection of events during the day including Storytelling in the Marquee, the Yurt, the Bell Tent and around the Pirate Ship, visit the Earth oven to feast on food and stories.  Teddy Bear’s Picnic for the under 5’s at teatime plus all day craft making, craft stalls and plants for sale

A Tangled Web (Pirate Ship, 10.30am) from Graham Langley & Pam Bishop 

Traditional stories, songs and music to set the festival off to a bright start – but expect some surprises along the way!


Interactive Storytelling (Marquee, 10.30am) Catriona Heatherington

Learn to tell an ancient legend together using English, Urdu and plenty of action.  Have fun and liven up your Saturday morning.


Sun and Rain, Wind and Weather (Yurt, 10.30am) from Cath Edwards (especially for under 5’s)

A new way of enjoying the English weather.  Interactive stories, songs and rhymes celebrating the fun of being outdoors.


Fearsome stories for Fearless Families, (Bell Tent, 11.30am & Yurt 3.30pm) from Belinda McKenna

Stories full of witches, ghosts and things that lurk in the night.


Stories for Grown-ups – from Malcolm Speake (Yurt, 11.30am & Bell Tent 1.30pm)

Come and laugh – or be terrified – by one of his ghost stories


Moseley Village Band (Glades & Spaces, 12noon & 1.30pm)

Music in the style of the traditional English village band, arrangements like those played by country musicians of Thomas Hardy’s time.


Earth Oven Tales (Earth Oven, 12.30pm and 1.30pm)  Catriona Heatherington

Bake your own foccaccio with an Italian chef. Find out how to use an earth oven. Listen to Italian legends of the earth.   Eat and enjoy!

£2, booking on the day essential


Come and See What’s in the Garden (Yurt, 1.30pm) from Cath Edwards (especially for under 5’s)

Birds and plants, minibeasts and trees;  lots of stories, songs and rhymes all about the Gardens, so come and join in!


Pirate Adventure (Pirate Ship, 2.30pm) with Cath Edwards & Sharon Carr-Wu (Especially for children 7 – 11).

Calling all pirates! Join us, shipmates, for tales and songs of low deeds on the high seas: treasure and treachery, shipwrecks and shanties.

Gory Stories – (Yurt 2.30pm) with Dawn Powell (Over 8’s only)

Quiver, shiver and feel the tingle in your spine as you sing along to tales of the supernatural. Are you brave? Do you dare to step into the shadow lands?

 Manx Myths and Monsters (Marquee, 3.30pm) with Kit Bathgate

Follow a native guide to the Isle of Man, where the weather is a wizard’s work and fishermen are stalked by amorous mermaids


Teddy Bears’ Picnic (Earth Oven, 3.30pm) With Catriona Heatherington

Go on a walk with Teddy to find good things for Teddy to eat. Bring them to the picnic and make Teddy happy.  For little children and anyone who loves their Teddy.


Dragons’ Den –  (Yurt, 4.30pm) from Dawn Powell

Welcome to the World of Stories as told by champion storyteller Dawn Powell.  Step into the magical world of dragons and enjoy a feast of words and a magical adventure.


Dragon Quest –(Glades & Spaces, 5pm) Catriona Heatherington (for anyone brave enough to go!)

Go on a quest through the Gardens. Use your knowledge. Test your skills. Be ready for action and tricks of the dragon.


Saturday 23 June – Evening (gate opens 6pm)

6.15 pm    until 7.15pm  Secret Stories of the Woods – the trees have more stories.

The trees have stories to tell – hear of Merlin’s magic; a bold knight; bewitched maidens.  Roam the Gardens and find the storytellers who will intrigue and enchant you.  And make some unusual jewellery

7.30 pm     Our Finale – Concert in the Marquee

Princesses of Grimm – From the kitchen to the throne room, the women of the brothers Grimm have ways to make sure they rule the roost.  Stories from Kit Bathgate, Cath Edwards and Sharon Carr-Wu

 (15-20 minute interval)

Stories Shakespeare Forgot!

Shakespeare lived in a time that was rich in folk tale and legend and used them in his plays. Listen to some of those stories that are still with us today.

9.30pm      Time to say goodbye until next year

For full details about the festival, click here


Storytelling Festival Comes to Martineau Gardens May 29, 2012

Storytelling Festival Coming to Edgbaston

Click through for Festival Information

A new festival for South Birmingham has been announced today. Community Garden Martineau Gardens and Arts Agency the Traditional Arts Team have joined forces to create the Martineau Gardens Storytelling Festival. Combining knowledge of the earth with storytelling wisdom, the festival aims to deliver a range of storytelling, music and craft events to reconnect city dwellers with their natural surroundings. The festival takes place at Martineau Gardens on Friday 22 and Saturday 23 June 2012.

Entertainment planned for the family-friendly event takes place in unusual locations around the Gardens. There will be swashbuckling stories for young and old from the decks of a pirate ship; performances celebrating Grimm and Shakespeare within a story yurt; tales around the earth oven plus stories around the fire under the night sky. There’s also a teddy bears picnic laid on for younger story lovers.

Graham Langley, of the Traditional Arts Team said: “This is a chance for people to experience terrific storytelling and more in a beautiful location – whether it’s a seated marquee performance, Earth Oven tales or a teddy bear’s picnic we’ve created a programme with something for everyone.” 

Caroline Hutton, Director of Martineau Gardens said: “We’re looking forward to welcoming new faces to Martineau Gardens through this Storytelling Festival.”

Single tickets cost cost £7 (Friday/Saturday evening) and £10 (Saturday day) and family tickets cost £14 (Friday / Saturday evening) and £20 (Saturday day). Tickets are available in advance, to callers in person to Martineau Gardens, by post or on the gate on (subject to availability). To avoid disappointment, advance booking is recommended. Cash or cheque only. Martineau Gardens is open Monday to Saturday, 10am – 4pm, 27 Priory Road, Edgbaston, Birmingham, B5 7UG. Further information about the festival is available here  or by telephoning   0121 440 7430


Wildlife Report May 28, 2012

28 May Wildlife Report

Orange Tip Butterfly, Martineau Gardens

Orange Tip Butterfly, Martineau Gardens

Today’s wildlife report just in! Every week, our wildlife recorder Brian Perry, walks the gardens, noting wildlife changes. Here’s his report for today:

The warm weather has seen lots of insects appearing. On the butterfly front, unusually early a painted lady, plus orange tip, small white and holly blue attracted to the flowers in the summer wildflower meadow. The meadow is a feast for the eyes with red campion and ox-eye daisy in abundance.

Red Campion in the Summer Meadow, Martineau Gardens

Red Campion in the Summer Meadow, Martineau Gardens

Elsewhere we’ve been following the progress of a great-tit family – the youngest has finally fledged and we have 3 sets of nesting blue-tits – you can hear the young if you visit soon. There are three types of ladybirds (7 spot, 14 spot and a harlequin, plus dock bugs and damselflies darting around. Wildflowers in bloom this week include fox gloves, yellow iris (by the pond), cow parsley, dog rose, bistort and forget me not.

Photo credits: B Perry

Asparagus Is Here May 28, 2012

 Asparagus Spears Emerging, Martineau Gardens

Asparagus Spears Emerging

The asparagus beds are producing lots of tasty spears this month. Pictured here, some spears photographed this morning (28 May) just emerging.

There will be new spears available for you to buy, every day – first come first served – until the end of June.

In a couple of days, these spears will look like this:

The mighty asparagus spear

The mighty asparagus spear


Spring Event Success May 24, 2012

Spring Event: hop, skip, jump

Spring Event: hop, skip, jump credit: C Klein

A big thank you to everyone who came to our Spring Event on 20 May, 2012 – we felt it was a huge success with record attendance, despite the chilly weather! Thanks to all our volunteers, supporters and visitors who made this such a terrific day.

Do come come back and see us in the heatwave. Here’s some images of the some of the shady corners of the Gardens, perfect for relaxing in and escaping the heat.

Blackthorn Blossom March 19, 2012

Wildlife report  – just in! BP reports this week, that the Blackthorn blossom growing in our young hedge around the bonfire field is in blossom. The blackthorn will produce sloes in autumn, which we will be adding to our jams. He’s also seen a couple of mallards on the pond and down in the woodland greenfinch, bullfinch, nuthatch, long-tail tit and a mistle thrush. Why not pop down to the gardens for a breath of fresh air and see what you can see this week.

Wildlife sightings March 12, 2012

12 March 2012 – Wildlife report just in! BP always does a weekly walk round the Gardens and records his findings. The warm weather of the last few days has seen insects stirring. All sighted at the Gardens today, a seven spotted ladybird, a bumblebee, and a millipede. Close to our bird hide a great spotted woodpecker and a goldfinch have been spotted. BP also reports hearing a mistlethrush, a buzzard and a greenfinch. New flowers this week, are the lungwort.

Butterflies sightings March 1, 2012

The mild sunny days last week brought our first butterfly sightings, with a Peacock on the Friday (24 February) and a Red Admiral on the Saturday (25 February).

Red Admiral Butterfly, Martineau Gardens

Also, the birds have been more active with Spring approaching.  Some have started singing, including Dunnock, Wren and Nuthatch, and Great Spotted Woodpecker and Treecreeper have both been present.  The treecreeper is a small, inconspicuous brown and white bird that climbs trees looking for insects.  An old name for it is ‘Mouse Bird’.

Several species of fungi have also been found, including Candlesnuff Fungus, Jelly Ear Fungus and Scarlet Elf Cup.

Candlesnuff Fungus / Stag Horn Fungus, Martineau Gardens

Rare Plant Spotted January 31, 2012

Our Wildlife Recorder and the newly discovered Toothpick plant

A rare non-native plant found last year, at Martineau Gardens, that has kept the experts guessing, has finally been confirmed as the tooth-pick plant (Ammi visnaga (L.) Lam). A garden volunteer was weeding an area around the sundial lawn and spotted a plant that she didn’t recognise. Our wildlife advisor, Brian Perry (pictured here) , called in Mike Poulton (Botanist for the Birmingham and Black Country Wildlife Trust) who took a sample which was sent to the Botanical Society for the British Isles (BSBI) referee for alien plants Dr J. L. Mason who confirmed our find. Mike says: “The Martineau Gardens tooth- pick plant find is a first for Birmingham.” The plant is an annual, so we will have to see if it returns.