We have Moved!

Thanks to all of our friends and supporters who have visited us at Great Linford Pavilion over the past two years. In August this year we decided that we needed to move as we had outgrown the available space. We have just recently completed our move to York House Community Centre, London Road, Stony Stratford, MK11 1JQ. Here we are cultivating a cutting garden where we will be producing and selling lovely home grown British flowers for arrangements and drying. Please come and visit us for all your cut flowers and dried flower needs. Thanks again and we hope to see you soon, Theresa

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Introducing Bev – Gardening Support Volunteer

Greetings all from Branch-Out MK CIC. Hoping the start of 2014 has been good to you all. I wanted to introduce myself as I will sometimes also be posting blogs, as well as Theresa, the project Manager. My name is Bev. I am a volunteer here at Branch-Out MK and I have been with the team since October 2013 offering my administration skills, as well as helping in the gardens.

I have a big interest in countryside management and conservation and am hoping to pursue this further from gaining experience and obtaining qualifications in the near future. Volunteering here is such a privilege and I have to be honest, I am truly loving every minute. I hope at some point you guys, who are reading this will come to Branch-Out MK to see how wonderful this project really is.

The last 2 months have been very busy on site, hence the lack of posts. We have gained more garden workers and currently have an occupational therapy student, from the University of Northampton, who is with us till end of May for her final year placement. All the extra hands and experience helps a great deal in moving Branch-Out MK forward.

After months of hard grafting, digging the site for the heritage apple cordons and removing many heavy, large stones behind the barn we finally have placed all 26 trees and now it’s only a matter of time before we see them grow and we can collect the heritage apples.

tree plant1      tree plant2

With this complete, we moved back to the sculpture garden, to clear remaining fallen leaves from the Autumn and to weed the beds to allow for the upcoming summer plants. This garden will be a big focus for the next couple of months, with newly drawn plans to create a beautiful Georgian inspired garden in keeping with the site.

Branch-Out MK has also had the exciting privilege of working with an artist based in the Almshouses, Helene Sorensen, who creates incredible art using nature as her inspiration and is creating a large piece of art within her own studio on the Great Linford site, which will be open on display when completed.The team has helped her place approx a tonne of topsoil in her studio for her piece of work. Once completed photos will be placed on the blog for you all to see, so you are welcome to come see her work and take a tour of the Branch-Out MK workshop and gardens too.

In the last couple months we have been working very hard sowing up new plants ready for the fast approaching summer to sell at our site and also summer fetes of 2014. Please come up to our site weekdays 10-2 to be greeted by the team, buy some of our plants and be shown around to see what we do.

We hope to post at least once a month, however this can be more or sometimes less due to the demand of work required so please do like our facebook page (www.facebook.com/branchoutmkcic) , keep checking this site for more news and exciting plans for 2014.

Take care and happy growing from the gardening team at Branch-Out MK CIC.

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Remember on St….

Remember on St. Vincent’s day, if that the sun his beams display. For ’tis a token, bright and clear, of prosperous weather all the year.

St. Vincent’s day is 22nd January and the sun was certainly beaming as I stood in the garden by the apple trees that afternoon.

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Stones, stones and more stones.

The stones just keep on coming. Digging in the barn garden by the wall is becoming a real test of will. So many stones, presumably from when the wall was rebuilt. But needs must and when you have apple cordons to put in they need free draining soil with a good lot of organic material in there, not the claggy, wet, blue clay we are seeing! So it’s all hands on deck with everyone doing their bit, adding farmyard manure, compost and gritty sand. Now the soil is starting to look much better.imageimage

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Bones in the Barnyard

Well, work stopped this week when we thought we had made a gruesome discovery. The soil is so bad by the barn garden wall that we decided to double dig where the apples are to be planted. It is nothing like the Sculpture Garden soil which is beautiful. We removed what could only loosely be described as topsoil and dug over the subsoil whilst trying to get as deep as possible. The soil is full of old stone, hard core and Tarmac making it quite horrendous. Heavy clay with much blue clay indicating very poor drainage, not good for apples. After a couple of hours we found a vertebra and then what appeared to be a tibia. This bone was clearly old and it sent a few shivers down the spines of all of us! The police were duly called, CID arrived with cameras and equipment and told us to stop digging. A frisson of excitement ran through the team as we all wondered if this could be a human skeleton. Who could it have been? Why were they in the barn garden? Why had they not been buried in the churchyard only a hundred metres away? 

A Community Police Office was posted at the gate in case it was now a crime scene. Thoughts played through my mind that evening as I wondered about who this person could have been. The next day I made my way to the garden where a fold down table had been placed over the hole in the border. I wondered how long we would have to stop work? the apples need to be in by the end of Feb. My questions were later answered by office staff who told me the police had confirmed that these were indeed cow bones!Image

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Tree work carried out

Tree work carried out

A number of tree saplings and bushes have now been removed. These were undermining some walls and really had to be cleared. This has opened up the site so that the Almshouses and School House are now clearly visible. This will enable us to move forward with the weed clearance and redevelopment of the grounds in 2014.

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Work continues in the Sculpture Garden

Work continues in the Sculpture Garden

We have now planted up two mixed borders with shrubs, herbaceous perennials, daffodils and snowdrops. The elders and plum suckers have been removed, along with all the old crazy paving, nettles and brambles. The central bed just has the old dead plum tree trunk left which will have to be taken out next. This has all helped to open up the garden and let us see how it can develop. It is a lovely little quiet and contemplative space. Over the winter we aim to put in some shingle paths and more plants.

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MK Calling Exhibition at MK Gallery, Milton Keynes

MK Calling Exhibition at MK Gallery, Milton Keynes

Over the summer we were very pleased to have been selected as an exhibitor at the MK Gallery. We aimed to show how growing plants can also ‘grow’ people in terms of self confidence, self belief, hope, to mention but a few benefits. Our lovely Sorbus wilmorinii is now back at Great Linford and has been planted in the grounds.

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Busy Busy Busy

Well, where has the time gone? We do say that time flies in the garden. However, I havn’t been in it much until recently! I have mostly been running around having meetings to try and get people to come to Branch-out MK so they can benefit from the wonderful environment and atmosphere. The Waterside Festival ran from 14th to 16th June. It was amazing; great music, good weather most of the time, blacksmiths and green woodwork demonstrations lending an air of classic heritage to the mix. We built a medieval turf seat with a modern twist. It looks absolutely stunning and once the flowers start to establish themselves in the willow wall it will be amazing. It took two of us, two days with 600 willow rods, about 50 willow poles and 1 and a half tonnes of topsoil (plus soil conditioner). It looks like it’s always been there and will form a semi permanent feature (that is until it rots down in a few years time). When you sit on the seat you feel transported to another time, magical.

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Has Spring finally Sprung?






What a joy to see the violets, daisies and primroses popping up, not to mention the unfurling leaves. The great big sticky buds of Horse Chestnut (Aesculus) are all unfolding. The willows (Salix) are breaking their buds too. Long awaited outbreaks of sunshine mixed with bursts of rain and scattered hail showers remind us that it is April weather, ‘April showers bring forth May flowers’.

I can finally show you some photos of Great Linford when it’s not covered in snow.

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