Maintaining an area the size of the churchyard is a major undertaking, complicated by the historical distribution of the graves and the need to adhere to diocesan regulations. The focus has had to be on that section of the churchyard where the graves are located, resulting in the partial abandonment of the area at the top end which has become overgrown, allowing brambles, nettles and creeping thistles to thrive. An overflowing compost bin and the necessary presence of a particularly unsightly skip further increase the unattractiveness of this area, now so near to where the current graves are sited. Despite this proximity, it is estimated that it will be at least a further 8 years before the churchyard is fully taken up by graves.
This is a question you may well have asked if you'd been in the vicinity of the churchyard on a Monday some weeks ago. You might have been more specific. Why was someone on a ladder halfway up a tree? Why were some people starting and feeding a fire – surely its too early for a 5th November rehearsal? Why were others building small piles of twigs and small branches set against the end wall? Could this possibly have been a ritual dance around the skip?
CHURCHYARD PROJECT 2015
Photo: Deborah Roberts
Two of the volunteers, Tony Natt and David Homer admiring their work
This is a lookback at what the group has done since starting in the Spring -
• The originally overgrown area planned for wildflowers has been substantially trimmed.
• Within this area the large quantity of brambles and nettles has been reduced significantly whilst leaving some for butterfly attraction purposes.
• In this same area, pathways have been created to provide access.
• Some ten small circular sections have been completely cleared and wildflower seeds sown.
• A sizeable insect habitat pile (our bug hotel) has been constructed against the end wall.
• Ten bird boxes have been installed in the trees.
• The lower branches of some trees have been trimmed.
• A quantity of English bluebell bulbs and some snowdrop bulbs have been planted.
• A large wooden screen has been constructed to hide the skip from view.
• A new compost area has been made in the far corner of the Churchyard.
• Some ideas have been formulated for the potential design of the contemplated remembrance area.
We are pleased with the progress made in this first year and I would like to express thanks to all the members of the group, and the professional input of Stroud Valleys Project, for being able to achieve so much, especially as the weather has not always been kind. The attached photo, taken at our November workday, shows two of the volunteers, Tony Natt and David Homer. Inevitably, there are some elements of the original plan that have had to be deferred to next year. In particular, the involvement of the Academy has had to be delayed as has the installation of an information board. We are now looking forward to 2016, hopefully with flowers appearing, bird boxes all occupied, and the bug hotel having a good occupancy rate.
Regular monthly working sessions have continued and after what seems a long wait wildflowers have started to appear. Yellow Rattle seeds will be sown in September and a variety of plugs planted. The photo below shows the sign, kindly donated, to be installed at the top end of the Churchyard. A strimmer has also been donated to add to our inventory of tools.
Thanks to the expertise of entomologist Denise Gibbons in creating the appropriate habitat a variety of butterflies and moths are now to be seen daily. To enable everyone to experience this, a moth survey evening is planned for Friday 16 September from 7.30 pm at the top end of the Churchyard. Everyone is invited to stop by with dusk being the best time to do this. A simple device will be set up to attract the moths and Denise will be on hand to identity the various types of moth. Please put this in your diaries.