Bentley Pinfold Wildflower Garden : a good news story

A very good friend of mine, Adam, has just sent me an article, concerning a Restoration Project in a South Yorkshire village.

Its a heart-warming story, with social, environmental and historical threads,  and tells of the preservation of an ancient structure, the creation of a wildflower garden, all achieved by the community working together.

The tale unfolds in Bentley, a small village near Doncaster and tells of a dilapidated, unloved Pinfold. A Pinfold? Its a saxon term for a walled, lockable enclosure, used to impound stray livestock.

Bentley Pinfold what lies beyond the gate?

Bentley Pinfold
what lies beyond the gate?

By the 16th century most English villages and townships would have had such a pound. The animals owners could only reclaim their wayward beasts after paying a fee, to the Pinder or tallyman.

Bentley Pinfold is Grade II listed, dates from 1832 and over recent years has been used as a dumping ground, becoming overgrown with ugly weeds.

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pinfold in a state of decay

In 2011, various community groups came together to discuss ways of improving the area. Enthusiastic local volunteers from “Growing a Greater Bentley” offered to spearhead the development of a wildflower garden, for the enjoyment of locals and wildlife alike.

Work began to clear the area in 2012, with the Community Payback team clearing 10 tonnes of undergrowth and rubbish.

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clean and tidy

Cash funding was secured from the local “Community First” scheme, and donations of plants, bark chippings and other materials were made by the Borough Council and by local people.

In Spring 2013, the development of the garden began. Wildflower seeds were sourced from Green Estate, and volunteers came to prepare the earth.

The walls of the pinfold were professionally restored and a path laid of the bark chippings.

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Children came from a local primary school to help sow the seeds, and nurture the seedlings.

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And now, in July 2013, the first flowers are appearing…

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an amazing transformation
bees and butterflies welcome

In my humble opinion, a Huge Success!

For the full story, written by Adam (a director of GGB), with proper accreditations, 4 pages in all, click here.

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Butterfly Photography Made Easy

Butterflies are excellent subjects for a photograph, with their gorgeous colours and markings, and often taken in conjunction with some pretty flower or foliage. They do however tend to flit about, rarely staying in one place for more than a second or two (the same can be said for the bees), flying off just as the shot is composed and in focus.

Say Cheese!Peacock Butterfly (Inachis io) in stealth mode

Say Cheese!
Peacock Butterfly (Inachis io) in stealth mode

This perfect specimen below however was much easier to work with, on account of the fact that it is sadly dead. I found it lying on the path, in a remarkable state of preservation – and thought I should honour its memory by taking an image.

Scarce Swallowtail (Iphiclides podalirius)

Lights, Camera, No Action
Scarce Swallowtail (Iphiclides podalirius)

Despite the name ‘scarce’, this swallowtail butterfly is quite common (although not in the UK). It’s habitat is blackthorn or sloe bushes, which abound in the hedgerows surrounding the house. I would really have preferred to try to capture an image whilst it was still alive, and am now on the lookout for other members of the family – but it did make an excellent, well-behaved model.

Below are a couple of beauties, who managed to stay still long enough to get a shot…

Painted Lady Butterfly (Vanessa cardui)

Painted Lady Butterfly (Vanessa cardui)

Marbled White Butterfly (Melanargia galathea) on clover

Marbled White Butterfly (Melanargia galathea) on clover

Sunflowers bursting forth

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sunflowers surrounding a pigonnier in south-west France

The sunflowers in the fields around and about are all poised to transform from green buds into bright yellow flowers (with their velvety brown faces). Exciting times, on one hand simply because I find the sunflowers so visually appealling, and secondly because I know that they will be providing stores for the honey bees – hopefully in excessive amounts.

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I noticed yesterday, in a field at the bottom of our hill, that someone had been along and deposited, temporarily, a batch of mobile hives. They are far enough away from my bees to represent any potential competition.

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I took a drive yesterday to get an idea of the most convenient sunflowers for my bees, and to evaluate whats going to be available and when. Last year, the house was surrounded on three sides by sunflower fields – this year they have been planted with wheat and barley. There are however several large fields all within a 2 kilometer radius of the hives, and more beyond that.

The early sunflowers are already attracting their fair share of bees.

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honey bees start arriving on sunflower feeding station

The sunflower buds have something of a triffid like appearance.

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With the petals packed in tight, desperate to unfurl into the sunlight.

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Looks like my girls are going to bee very busy over the coming weeks.