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May Day Festivities 2015


Buzzing: the Garden May Day Festival of Bees 2015

The bees and butterflies made the most of the warm, calm bank holiday weather, collecting pollen and feeding on the abundance of nectar rich flowers, which are now in bloom in the garden. They were joined by people relaxing and enjoying the sunny day, and taking part in a whole range of walks, talks and activities for this year's May Day event.

So what did we get up to?

  • A mushroom growing talk led by Jack Cox who is our resident mushroom expert. Partakers on the mushroom talk got to try this years crop including some yummy Shitake mushrooms.
  • Ida, our Garden Manager led volunteers in a scything workshop, learning how to look after your scythe; sharpen the blade; hold it safely; cut the grass safely and quickly.
  • Informative and engaging talks on honeybees led by Sean Hearn taking a look at the fascinating world of the honeybee, introducing key concepts in their biology and ecology. Sean manages an apiary at Hawkwood and also works in The Castle garden through the week. Sean has taken over as The Castle's resident beekeeper. At the moment we don't have any bees but once one of his other colonies swarms he will relocate them here, practicing keeping bees within an ethical framework. You can find out more here on Sean's blog 'At the Apiary'
  • Rasheeqa from Manor House PACT led a herb walk from Edible Landscapes London’s International Permaculture Day Plant Giveaway in Finsbury Park to The Castle garden where she gathered more people to continue the walk, exploring our forest garden. Rasheeqa is a Herbal Medicine Practioner around Waltham and offers clinics and treatments.

Busy Bees! 

The children’s craft area was buzzing all day! Families took part in a flower hunt, learned how to do the waggle dance (the way a honeybee communicates where she's found a good source of nectar with her nestmates), and made honeybees and bumblebees using clay and paper crafts.

To help out solitary bees, Helen from London Wildlife Trust showed people how to make bee homes and create bee-friendly habitat within your garden. As a result we now have a new bee home to install in a sunny place in the garden!

UCL student Richard came along to talk about his project working with the Skip Garden project. The Skip Garden, in its nature moves as each area in the city is developed. For the next move (in approx. 2 months) UCL architect students are designing and now building the new garden involving the design of bee hives with interactive elements that allow people to listen to and see bees at work.

Food and entertainment

People feasted on delicious pizzas from our cob oven and enjoyed fresh garden herb teas.

Anna Lou offered flower and bee themed face painting to mark the occasion, which both the kids and adults embraced fully.

In true mayday spirit, Renee of Castle Choir fame led people in singing songs in a round, whilst the children danced around the maypole. Our maypole was aptly made from a scaffolding pole and climbing rope instead of ribbons. 

The mayday bonfire drew the day to a cosy close and people had plenty of time to sit and enjoy the heat and glow of the flames as the daylight dimmed, before the first spots of rain began to fall.

Written by Lauren Ballard: Garden Events (Children & Families) Co-ordinator