Amgueddfa Cymru — National Museum Wales

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Winter to Spring

Penny Tomkins, 9 February 2015

Hi Bulb Buddies,

I’d like to share a few pictures with you. Remember, if you ask your teacher to send pictures of your plants to me I can share them with other schools involved in the project! I’m especially interested in pictures that show the change of seasons, like spring flowers submerged in winter snow!

A wintery spider web at the National Roman Legion Museum

Daffodils at St Fagans National History Museum. Can you tell which plants have buds and which have flowers?

There has been some confusion over when to enter your flowering dates online. You can monitor how tall your plants are growing each week and let me know in the ‘comments’ section when you enter your weekly weather records. But the ‘flowering date’ and the height of your plant on the day it flowers are to be entered on the NMW website only once the flower has opened. 

Look at the picture above of Daffodils at St Fagans National History Museum. This picture was taken on a cold day, so the flowers haven’t fully opened. But, you can still tell which ones have flowered by looking closely at the picture. If you can clearly see all of the petals then your plant has flowered. Before flowering the petals are held tight in a protective casing and look like this: 

This is a flower bud.

This is a flower bud. Once the flower has matured inside the bud (and the weather is warm enough) the casing will begin to open. This can take a few hours or a few days! If you watch your plants carefully you might see this happening! Once you can see all of your petals and the casing isn’t restricting them at all you can measure the flowers height and enter your findings on the website. Once you have done this a flower will appear on the Map showing where your school is!

You can practice measuring the height of your plants to see how quickly they grow. If your plants are still small you can measure from the top of the soil. But, when you come to take the final reading to enter on the website we ask that you measure from the top rim of your plant pot to the highest point of your flower.

Have you compared the heights of the flowers in your class? Are there big differences in the size and maturity of the plants, or are they all very similar? What about the plants planted in the ground? Are these any bigger than the ones in your plant pots? Why do you think this is? You can let me know your thoughts in the ‘comments’ section when you enter your weekly weather records!

Once the bulbs start to grow send your stories and pictures to our bulb-blog and follow Professor Plant on Twitter

Keep up the good work Bulb Buddies!

Professor Plant

P.S. Don’t worry if your bulbs haven’t sprouted yet. It’s still early days and I’m sure it won’t be long! Mine haven't all shown above the soil yet...

My Daffodils and Crocus are growing too!!

Snowdrops at St Fagans National History Museum.

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Give and Gain Day 2014

Hywel Couch, 19 May 2014

Last week, as part of Give and Gain Day 2014, we had 50 volunteers from the Lloyds Banking Group helping with a number of projects here at St Fagans. Some helped with the Gardening Department, some helped the Historic Buildings Unit while some assisted with a project alongside the Alzheimer’s Society. Myself and Bernice had the help of 11 volunteers to build a dead hedge in the woodlands near the bird hide.

We had been planning on building a dead hedge in near the bird hide for a while, for a number of reasons. A dead hedge would act as a screen for approaching the bird hide, meaning that birds on the feeders would be less likely to be scared by the approaching visitors. A dead hedge also acts as a wildlife corridor, giving cover to a wide variety of wildlife as they move through the woodlands. Visitors had also begun cutting through the woodland, and one section of the dead hedge was to act as a deterrent meaning visitors would be more likely to stick to the paths.

The first task of the day was the sharpening of the fence posts. The posts are needed for structure and need to be driven firmly into the ground. Creating the sharp end obviously makes this much easier. After creating pilot holes, the poles were then driven into the ground using a sledge hammer. Once the posts were in place, we could then begin to assemble the dead hedge.

A dead hedge is built up of dead woodland material. Over the past couple of weeks I have been asking the gardeners and farmers here to help by collecting any trimmings and off cuts and delivering these to the bird hide for use in this project. Everyone was incredibly helpful, and we ended up with a vast pile of material… or so I thought. Dead hedging takes a lot of material, so along with some of the volunteers I headed into the woods to do a bit of clearing to gain more material.

After lunch, we headed up into the woods near the site of Bryn Eryr, the Iron Age farmstead currently being built. This area has previously been cleared so there was a lot of cut material for us to collect. This was loaded into a trailer and taken over to the bird hide. The afternoon finished with us using this material to finish the dead hedge. As an artistic final touch, we used some lime cuttings to add extra height and a certain je ne sais quois to the finished hedge.

As these pictures show, the day was a huge success! The weather could not have been better and I think everyone enjoyed themselves. The 2 sections of dead hedge we wanted to build got done, and I’ve already earmarked some projects for future volunteers! The amount of work done in a day was incredible, it would have taken me and Bernice a lot longer to do without the help of the volunteers. A huge thank you to everyone who helped us and the other projects too!

Sharpening the posts

Sledge Hammer!

Building the hedge

The Volunteers!

Bernice peeping through the hedge!

The finished hedge!

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Big Garden Bird Watch

Hywel Couch, 31 January 2014

Last weekend was RSPB’s annual Big Garden Bird Watch, the world’s largest bird survey! On Saturday I joined in the fun by making fat ball birdfeeders with some of the visitors to the museum. Inspired by the Big Garden Bird Watch, I spent a little time this week in the bird hide at St Fagans. Here are a few photos of what I saw…

Did you take part? What birds you see in your garden? Remember to report your findings to the RSPB - Big Garden Bird Watch

Keep in touch with the wildlife at St Fagans by following on Twitter

Blue Tit
Blue Tit and Long Tailed Tit
Nuthatch
Great Tit
Male Chaffinch
A gang of Long Tailed Tits
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A batty summer at St Fagans!

Hywel Couch, 12 September 2013

I don’t know about you, but I cannot believe how quickly August flew by! It seems as if it was only yesterday that schools were breaking up, but now it is already time for us to welcome school visits again for a brand new school year! 

This summer was slightly different for myself in St Fagans. Due to the redevelopment project we have lost use of the Tŷ Gwyrdd eco house, so our summer events this year had a slightly more nomadic feel than normal! It was nice to visit other parts of the museum and to explore some of the wildlife found in different places. 

In total this summer, around 1000 people took part in a variety of nature activities within the museum, from minibeast bug hunts in the woods to our very popular twilight bat walks around the site.

The summer began with us re-opening the bird hide at its new location near Hendre Wen barn. After initial worries of whether we would attract similar numbers of birds as the previous location, I was very relieved after spending 30 minutes in the hide and spotting 11 different species. Hopefully we will continue to attract such a wide variety of birds to our feeders. The bird hide is open every day, so on your next visit be sure to pop in and see what you spot! 

In August we had a bit of a bat scare at the Tannery. The Tannery building is home to a roost of rare Lesser Horseshoe bats. A small electrical fire broke out one morning in the room directly below the roof space where the bats normally roost. Thankfully a quick response from South Wales Fire and Rescue Service ensured that the fire did not spread. Luckily, the bats had flown to an area of the building unaffected by the fire. The story even made it onto the BBC website! Thanks to Anwen for the pictures!

The bats have now returned to their normal roosting spot and they seem to have been largely unaffected by the event. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for our bat camera which is situated in the building. A combination of smoke and water damage means that we will have to replace the camera, which we will be doing as soon as possible! 

Bats at St Fagans seem to be going from strength to strength. We have 11 of the 18 British species known roosting within the museum grounds, including the elusive Nathusius Pipistrelle bat which has been found roosting in 2 of our buildings. Previous to this, there were only 2 known roosting locations for this species in the whole of Wales. This story also made the news recently! 

This year we held 3 Twilight Batwalks, all of which booked up well in advance. Thanks to all who came and apologies to anyone who tried to book but were unable to! Next year we are planning on having 4 walks throughout August, with the possibility of more depending on demand! If you came on one of our batwalks, or took part in any nature events this summer, please let us know what you though, either by commenting here or sending an us an email! 

Finally a big thanks to our new team of volunteers who helped out over the summer! Having an extra pair or two of hands during workshops and events is invaluable and means that we can offer a better experience to our visitors. I look forward to working with you again in the near future!

Lesser Horseshoe Bat at the Tannery
Firemen tackling the fire at the Tannery
Look at all the smoke!
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Another busy Easter fortnight has been and gone, one which saw over 4000 people visit the Tŷ Gwyrdd at St Fagans. Between the 25th of March and the 4th of April we ran a range of workshops from upcycling corkboards to planting tomoato seeds via an April Fools day quiz. 

One of our workshops, Grow Now, Eat Later, was designed as a way to encourage visitors to think about growing their own food. There was a chance for families to plant a few tomato seeds to take home with them. Hopefully, over the coming months, with the right kind of nurturing, these seeds will grow into healthy tomato plants and will eventually produce a crop of delicious tomatoes. I’ll let you know how my own attempts fare! 

For 2 days we were joined by Wood for the Trees Wales who held an Up-Cycling Workshop in the Tŷ Gwyrdd. This involved creating notice boards from old picture frames and cork tiles. This was an extremely popular activity with all who visited, in fact we used up every single picture frame and every scrap of cork tile! If you are interested in similar workshops, visit Wood for the Trees Wales’ Facebook page for more info! 

As Easter Monday fell on April the 1st, we thought it was only right to hold an event for April Fools day. We created an quiz around the house so that visitors could test themselves to find out if they were Eco Cool or indeed an April Fool. Luckily it turned out most of our visitors were indeed Eco Cool… with only a few exceptions. After completing the quiz there was a chance to make badge to show off your eco credentials to friends and family. 

As part of the Making History Project, the use of the Tŷ Gwyrdd will be changing. As the main visitor entrance is being upgraded, the Tŷ Gwyrdd will form part of a temporary entrance to St Fagans. 

Over the years, we’ve had a fantastic time running numerous workshops in the Tŷ Gwyrdd and meeting literally thousands of wonderful poeple. Thanks to the many, many people who have helped us achieve this. Rest assured, lots of our workshops will continue, albeit in different locations throughout St Fagans Museum. Watch this space!

Ty Gwyrdd in the snow earlier this year.
Tomato Plant starting to sprout
Happy cork board makers!