October is an ideal month for fungi forays: a chance to walk around your local green wooded space, looking for mushrooms and toadstools- on the forest floor or on trees. Here at Martineau Gardens, our volunteer wildlife recorders, Andrew and Brian, have been identifying the different species of fungi at Martineau Gardens for nearly 20 years. Nearly 50 species have been identified since records began – here’s a selection of old and new sightings all seen at the Gardens.
Good for wellbeing
The majority of fungi are beneficial to the environment, returning dead material to the soil in a form in which it can be reused and helping plants absorb water and nutrients not to mention the joy they can bring on an afternoon autumnal walk. Here’s Ali McKernan (The FUNgi Guy) with five reasons why fungi forays are good for wellbeing.
With this in mind, we’re inviting you to share your fungi photographs with Martineau Gardens via twitter, facebook and instagram – use the hashtag #MartineauFungiForays
There are lots of resources online to help you identify the fungus you find – this downloadable identification chart from the British Mycological Society will get you off to a good start.
Note: whilst the majority of fungi are not harmful, some species are extremely poisonous. Never eat any fungi you find unless you are 100% certain about their identity. Enjoy their fleeting beauty in situ where you find them and share your photos on social media #MartineauFungiForays
The Covid-19 crisis has challenged us all in ways beyond what we could have imagined – and for people with existing mental health conditions, many are experiencing greater depths of social isolation than before.
This Saturday 10 October 2020 is #WorldMentalHealthDay – an opportunity for us all to check in on our own mental health. At Martineau Gardens we support people with mental health issues through therapeutic horticulture.
Gill Milburn, CEO for Martineau Gardens said: “For some volunteers on the therapeutic horticulture project, gardening together, week in, week out can be a lifeline that gives purpose to one’s life and provides the mental support they needed to keep healthy.”
But when lockdown began, the future of the project was challenged, government guidelines meant that the volunteers were unable to attend the gardens. The temporary closure of our gates meant we also lost a vital income stream that events and public visits generated.
Our thanks to
Seven months later, we are still weathering the storm but are able to report that the therapeutic horticulture project has been able to continue. We are grateful to have been awarded significant grants from the Coronavirus Community Support Fund, distributed by The National Lottery Community Fund and the Heart of England Community Foundation’s Coronavirus Resilience Fund. The funding has meant that protective equipment has been bought and additional therapeutic horticulture staff have been employed to ensure volunteers are gardening safely in socially distanced pairs.
We are also appreciative of the long-term support of our corporate partners:
The Samaritans provide confidential, non-judgemental emotional support for people experiencing feelings of distress or despair, including those that could lead to suicide. You can phone, email, write a letter or in most cases talk to someone face to face.
We’re delighted to announce that we have been awarded £5k in the Persimmon Homes’ Building Futures – whilst we didn’t win the top prize, we are overwhelmed with all the support shown by you, our supporters, regularly voting on-line for Martineau Gardens and sharing the initiative with friends and colleagues.
With our new
Persimmon windfall, we plan to redevelop the play area, updating and repairing
the Pirate Shipwreck area to enhance the natural play experience. We’ll restore
the popular Wheelhouse, improve the sandpit and furnish with eco-friendly play
equipment – the refurbishment will be in keeping with our commitment to
consider the environment and wildlife in all we do. The winter months are an
ideal time to begin this work.
However, this is
only the start of the redevelopment. The grassed surface area of the play area
will always be problematic – bare and bald in summer and muddy and frequently
awash in winter. There is a seam of clay and rubble below the surface, left
over from the days when this was the recreation area for the trainee teachers
attending the Martineau Teaching Centre, (see Our History: the
current play area housed a tennis court and our pavilion was its sports
pavilion). To ensure our redevelopment is sustainable, we need more funds to
invest in proper drainage.
Birmingham children and nature … our future
The pandemic has reduced many aspects of our lives
– here at Martineau Gardens we’re
striving to help children reconnect to the natural world. Over lockdown and the
subsequent months, we’ve been delivering on-line
events and activities to help families get close to the nature
on their doorstep, as part of their daily exercise. As we look with hope to the
future, we are gradually returning visitor to the Gardens after our temporary
closure (see Mondays at Martineau),
and with the reopening of schools we’re looking forward to welcoming school
Environmental education has always been important at Martineau Gardens. Hundreds of school children have made visits to Martineau Gardens – our education officer delivers taught sessions which encourage children to explore diverse habitats and hunt for invertebrates; learn about the natural world and wildlife; discover where food comes from (and how good it tastes) in the vegetable plots and orchard; understand the important role of bees and butterflies in pollination and generally have fun while learning. Primary school children on educational visits have enjoyed playing in our shipwreck play area during their lunch break.
Martineau Gardens is a safe and an inclusive space that offers play without cost, within an area of extreme economic disparity. We all know you’re never too young to benefit from time spent outside – our play area at Martineau Gardens has been a well-used, much loved area providing opportunity for children to engage their imagination and improve their wellbeing at the same time. Using the natural landscape and features of the Gardens in play, whether it’s hide and seek, sandpit constructions, picnics or pirate fun – families connect with nature and each other. Our family activities during the school holidays feature environmental play and crafts, introducing them to the wonder of outdoor adventure. We look forward to the time when we can welcome back our family visitors.
About the prize
Persimmon Homes, with the support of Team GB, gave away over £1 million in 2020 to help projects for young people aged under 18 across England, Wales and Scotland. Martineau Gardens was one of the 87 finalists to win £5,000 – thank you to everyone who voted for us.
Part of our work in looking after the wildlife Martineau Gardens is to record what species visit this urban oasis. Wildlife Volunteers Andrew Curran and Brian Perry are responsible for most of our wildlife records and for many years they have carried out weekly moth trappings. They were delighted to report recently, that the 400th moth species to visit Martineau Gardens has now been recorded – it’s quite breathtaking as Andrew Curran’s image below, shows: the Ruby Tiger Moth.
Our moth trap is a light-box contained within wood – it’s put out in the evening, under the Pavilion canopy – the light attracts the moths and some fly in. The box is filled with cardboard egg boxes providing dark nooks and crannies where moths can hide. The moths settle. The next morning, our wildlife surveyors inspect the egg trays, record what has been found and the moths are then released unharmed. Thanks to their diligence, the Gardens now have an impressive list of different moths species identified.
Our wildlife pond is home to a wide variety of life from beetles and pondsnails, to dragonflies and damselflies. Amphibians that are regulalry seen include frogs, toads and smooth newts. Once a year, our wildlife volunteers ‘weed the pond’, removing all the excess vegetation that has grown up. Water lily, yellow iris, water mint and greater spearwort (a large buttercup) are thinned out. Pictured here, Brian and Andrew at work – the vegetation gets left beside the pond to let any aquatic insects return.
One of our staff, Miranda Kingston was recently interviewed for national magazine, ‘Woman’s Weekly’.
Pictured here – is the feature which includes interviews with women at two other community gardens.
In the interview, Miranda gives an insight into her role as one of our Therapeutic Horticulturalists. She describes Martineau Gardens as ‘a safe place where [the volunteers] can socialise, or escape the harsh realities of life for a while’,sees herself as a facilitator developing life skills as well as gardening skills.
Connecting Birmingham children and nature … our future
The pandemic has reduced many aspects of our lives, at Martineau Gardens we want to help children reconnect to the natural world. Help Martineau Gardens win £100,000 to bring environmental education into the lives of Birmingham’s children.
Martineau Gardens are finalists on the Persimmon Homes’ Building Futures shortlist to win a share of £1million pot supporting under-18s nationwide.
Voting daily – yes – really! Vote everyday until 18 September 2020 (It’s possible to vote multiple times each day – please bookmark the voting page and vote as often as you can, at home, at work or by mobile to help boost our vote.)
Environmental education has always been important at Martineau Gardens. Encouraging children to explore diverse habitats and hunt for invertebrates; learn about the natural world and wildlife; discover where food comes from (and how good it tastes) in the vegetable plots and orchard; understand the important role of bees and butterflies in pollination and generally have fun while learning. If we are fortunate to win one of the top prizes we will build a dedicated Environmental Education Classroom and redevelop the play area to enhance the natural play experience.
Tim Bruton representing Martineau Gardens said: “It is a huge achievement to have been selected as a regional finalist, but now we really need people to get behind us and get voting so that we are in the strongest possible position to earn one of the top three cash awards on the night.
We have an excellent Environmental Education programme and thousands of family visits each year. If we are fortunate enough to win the public vote we will be able to build a dedicated classroom and improve the children’s play area to enhance the natural play value.”
Visit the new area on our website: Nature Activities for families
About the prize
Persimmon Homes West Midlands is backing Martineau Gardens to be a prize winner in October, when cash awards of £100,000, £50,000 or £20,000 will be made to those winning the most online votes.
Building Futures is being delivered through the Persimmon Charitable Foundation. Through the scheme, a total of 128 grants of £1,000 have been awarded to groups supporting sport, education & arts and health across Persimmon’s 31 regional businesses and its head office.
Persimmon Homes is an official partner of Team GB and the Persimmon
Charitable Commission enlisted the help of athletes Jason Kenny and Laviai
Nielsen to help determine the three regional finalists for each business
One initiative from each category will go on to win £100,000 each
through a national award scheme to be decided by a public vote.
As well as the £100,000 first prize, there will be a £50,000 second
prize and a £20,000 third prize in each sector, while a further 87 shortlisted
projects will each receive £5,000.
opened on 27 July and will close at midnight on 18 September 2020.
Sue Roberts thoughtfully signalled her intention to step down as the Chair of Trustees at Martineau Gardens, at last year’s AGM. We are all sad to see Sue go, as the organisation has benefitted so much under her stewardship. Sue says of her six years with the Gardens: ”Martineau Gardens is a charity that I truly believe is a jewel in the city’s crown. Receiving the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service is a testament to the amazing work of our volunteers, staff and trustees and to the generosity of our supporters.
I have very much enjoyed working with the trustees and with the Gardens’ fabulous staff team over this time. We have seen some wonderful changes and the Gardens are looking more beautiful than ever. Our newly refurbished Pavilion has been a huge success, as has the Jo Malone London Courtyard Garden. Bookings of the Gardens and of the Pavilion have grown significantly. I am delighted that Tim Bruton, a fellow long-standing Trustee, has agreed to take on the role of Chair. I know that post Covid-19, the Gardens will continue to go from strength to strength under the stewardship of Tim, Gill our CEO and the Gardens’ dedicated volunteers, staff and trustees.”
Pictured below, scenes from the Martineau Gardens Summer Garden Party, just one of Sue’s contributions to the Gardens. This annual fundraising event wouldn’t have happened without Sue’s tireless energy, dedication and passion for Martineau Gardensfor which we appreciate her so much for.
As we enter our fourth month since lockdown began, the therapeutic horticulture project, which is at the heart of all that we do and how the community at Martineau Gardens interacts, remains a vital service. In the early days of the pandemic, our staff were doing their best to provide telephone support to the more vulnerable of our volunteers, a service that still continues. As lockdown eased, we wanted to facilitate the return of some volunteers, and this has been made possible by the Heart of England Community Foundation and the Coronavirus Community Support Fund, distributed by The National Lottery Community Fund.
Due to their support we have engaged additional staff and the volunteers are now gardening in socially distanced pairs. It’s through their efforts our two and a half acre site has remained nurtured despite this summer’s extreme weather. The Gardens are an oasis of tranquillity and we look forward to a time when we can share it with you. Whilst most staff have remained on furlough, a slimmed down core team have been delivering fresh, organically grown garden produce to those volunteers not yet able to return to the Gardens and many volunteers are delighted to be receiving medals, in honour of our recent Queens Award for Voluntary Service.