Thursday, 2 December 2010

Tree Planting in Whitehead

The Mayor of Carrickfergus, Alderman Jim McClurg joined members of Brighter Whitehead today to plant 30 trees in celebration of Tree Week.



Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Carrickfergus Tree Week


Alderman May Beattie, Chairperson of the Parks, Countryside & Amenities Sub-Committee launched National Tree Week in Carrickfergus Borough at Oakfield Primary on Friday 19 November. The launch will also highlight our achievements since the year 2000, in which Carrickfergus Borough Council will have planted 100,000 trees by the end of this tree planting season.

Alderman Beattie said "National Tree Week (27th November to 5th December) is an annual event that launches the winter tree-planting season. Every year millions of trees are planted across the UK as part of the initiative. Tree Week is celebrating its 36th Birthday this year and in Carrickfergus Borough we will be playing our part by planting more trees."

"Although Carrickfergus Borough Council has committed to planting more trees, planting of new trees across the UK has fallen to its lowest level in more than three decades. We need more trees planted now if we are to see any benefit for forthcoming generations and with the start of National Tree Week, there is no better time to get planting."

"Although it may seem that there are plenty of trees, the UK is one of the least wooded countries in Europe, with half the average tree cover, so we need to make sure that we don’t fall even further behind. Tree diseases such as ‘Sudden Oak Disease’ that has affected trees in Carrickfergus and throughout the UK are another reason why we need to continue planting a mix of trees."

"Planting a tree is a tremendously positive thing to do and is great fun, even in the depths of winter. There are plenty of reasons to get planting, it's great exercise, children love it, and you'll be making a valuable contribution to our community woodland. To take part in a tree planting event or for further information contact: Stephen Daye, Parks & Countryside Development Officer at Carrickfergus Borough Council. t: 93358039 or e: parks@carrickfergus.org". ended Alderman Beattie

Tree planting events in December:

Tree Planting at Whitehead Recreation Grounds in association with Brighter Whitehead on Thursday 2nd December at 2pm.

Tree planting at Eden Allotment Gardens (off Beltoy Road) on Saturday 4th December at 11am.

For further information on any tree planting events please contact Stephen Daye on 9335 8039. More tree planting events will take place in January, February & March visit www.carrickfergus.org/treeweek for further information.

Monday, 8 November 2010

BBC ends its Breathing Places and Dig In campaigns

What a shame the BBC has scrapped its Breathing Places and Dig In campaigns. The campaigns promoted gardening with schemes such as giving away free seeds and trees. The BBC explained that Breathing Places was only supposed to last five years and Dig In was only supposed to last two. A BBC representative said 11,000 primary schools had registered for Breathing Places and 1,000 partners had held 28,000 public activities, with thousands attending Springwatch Festivals. The BBC has also helped create 1,000 new "Breathing Places", working with local organisations across the country and supported by the Big Lottery Fund. More than 100,000 people registered for the Dig In newsletter this year. Sow, Grow and Harvest animation films by TV gardener Chris Collins generated 300,000 views and the events, which visited nine towns this year, reached 50,000 people. The BBC came under fire from the Taxpayers Alliance for spending £150,000 giving away trees and vegetable seeds last year through the campaigns. In 2009, it spent £57,500 on giving away 250,000 packets of vegetable seeds as part of the Dig In campaign.

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Blue Sky Green Space

A new report that collates the latest and most persuasive data on the positive influence of green spaces has been published by the GreenLINK coalition. The document, Blue Sky Green Space, outlines the many benefits that a diverse range of quality green spaces bring, covering health, communities, economic and environmental value. The full collaborative document is currently available in draft form online, where comment and contribution is encouraged from all. An executive summary of the report was presented to ministers in October as part of GreenLINK's advocacy strategy. Read the report here.

Monday, 25 October 2010

Carrickfergus in Bloom winners honoured at prize-giving

Floral creativity has once again been recognised by the Carrickfergus in Bloom initiative organised by Carrickfergus Borough Council. Local competition winners and runners-up will receive their well earned certificates and prizes at a prize-giving lunch in Carrickfergus Town Hall today (Friday 22nd October 2010) with over 110 people attending the event.
Competition categories included Best Kept Garden & Best Kept Container Garden for householders; Best Kept Commercial Premises for commercial organisations; Painting, Poetry and Tallest Sunflower Competitions for young people; and for internet users we have the Virtual Flower Show.

At the Lunch, the Chairperson of Parks, Countryside & Amenities Sub-Committee, Alderman May Beattie thanked all those who took part in the competition and made it such a success. “The Carrickfergus in Bloom Community Competitions have really caught the imagination of Carrickfergus citizens. When they started ten years ago, fewer than 300 took part; this year over 1,600 people battled the weather and created some beautiful floral displays that we can all enjoy." said Alderman Beattie

“Carrickfergus in Bloom is a beacon of community gardening good practice, as it encourages people to get involved, builds community spirit and improves the environment we all live in. With initiatives such as our school growing clubs and one pot pledge create opportunities for health, wellbeing and learning.”

Alderman Beattie also thanked the Competition Sponsors who paid for many of the flowerbeds and hanging baskets throughout the Borough. "The success of Carrickfergus in Bloom could not have happened without the generous support of local businesses throughout the Borough of Carrickfergus."

"We would also thank our statutory partners that have made Carrickfergus in Bloom such a success. Translink, the Northern Ireland Housing Executive & the Department of Regional Development have helped to improve the beauty of Carrickfergus 365 days a year; with the use of flowers, colourful shrubs, trees and attractive street furniture. As have many local groups in the Borough“. Ended Alderman Beattie

View winners at the Carrickfergus in Bloom website

Keep Britain Tidy Christmas Card Competition

Are you dreaming of a green Christmas? Then show what Keep Britain Tidy means to you this festive season by designing the Keep Britain Tidy Christmas card!

Help Keep Britain Tidy to spread their yuletide message far and wide, the winning picture will be transformed into the 2010 Christmas e-card which will then be emailed out to all their thousands of friends and supporters up and down the country!

Open to all ages, they are looking for eye-catching entries which cleverly combine fun and festivity along with an environmental theme. The Keep Britain Tidy logo (click here) should be depicted somewhere in your picture and all entries should be on one side of A4 paper in a landscape format, and submitted by post. To enter, simply send your picture to:

Christmas Card Competition
Marketing Team
Keep Britain Tidy
Elizabeth House
The Pier
Wigan
WN3 4EX

So what are you waiting for, fast forward to Christmas, get creative and help Keep Britain Tidy!

LINK: Keep Britain Tidy website

Monday, 11 October 2010

Whitehead Village Masterplan

Your Village, Your Say Village Masterplan Public Consultation

Whitehead Community Centre, Whitehead
Wednesday 20 October 2010, 6.00pm - 9.00pm

A masterplan is currently being prepared for Whitehead. This will identify a range of potential projects for improvement of the village.
Draft plans will be on public display for comment and the consultant team will be faciliating an open evening to discuss the proposals.
What kind of place would you like Whitehead to be in the future? Your views are vital so come along and tell us what you think.
Draft Village plans will be on display for a 4 week period Monday 11 October - Friday 5 November at Whitehead Library and online at www.carrickfergus.org

Friday, 8 October 2010

Children’s Community Competition Winners Announced


Today Alderman May Beattie, Chairperson of the Parks, Countryside and Amenities Sub-Committee announced the winners and runners-up (list enclosed) of the Carrickfergus in Bloom Children’s Painting & Poetry Competitions.

Alderman Beattie said “We are delighted to announce the Carrickfergus in Bloom Children’s Painting & Poetry Competition Winners and Runners-up. The response from our young people has been extraordinary with hundreds of entries to judge. I am thrilled about the quality and diversity of the entrants. It has been an opportunity for me to see the wealth and variety of artistic talent in our community. “Winners and runners-up will be invited to a prize-giving ceremony at the end of October in Carrickfergus Town Hall to receive their certificates and prizes.

Children’s Painting Competition 15 and under
Winner: Laura Murdy, Carrickfergus
Runner-Up: Lauren Finlay, Carrickfergus
Runner-Up: Jamie Blakely, Carrickfergus

Children’s Painting Competition 10 and under
Winner: Grainne White, Carrickfergus
Runner-Up: Nicole Alderdice, Carrickfergus
Runner-Up: Shannon Vermanen, Carrickfergus

View the winning paintings

Children’s Poetry Competition
Winner: Nathan Toland, Carrickfergus (read poem)
Runner-Up: Kirsty Wilson, Carrickfergus (read poem)
Runner-Up: Emily Turner, Carrickfergus (read poem)

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

2010 Virtual Flower Show Winners


The winners of the 2010 Virtual Flower Show have been announced by Chairperson of the Parks Committee, Alderman May Beattie. Alderman May Beattie said “The Virtual Flower Show organised by Carrickfergus in Bloom is an excellent opportunity for Carrickfergus Borough residents to show off their photographic and gardening skills in this internet based competition. The winning photographs can be viewed at www.virtualflowershow.org. Winners and runners-up will be invited to a prize-giving ceremony at the Town Hall in October to receive their certificates and prizes. At the ceremony we shall announce our plans for Carrickfergus in Bloom in the coming year. To encourage people to enter the Virtual Flower Show we ran a free prize draw to win a Digital Camera. The winner was Phil Hodges from Carrickfergus.

The Winners & Runners-Up are:

My GardenWinner - Pink Flowers by Shelley Malcolmson
Runner-Up - Peace by Joyce Kernohan

My Favourite Outdoor Plant
Winner - Snowdrops by Phil Hodges
Runner-Up - Clemitas by Gladys Blair

My Favourite Indoor Plant
Winner - Bloomin Clivia by Jean Mccullough
Runner-Up - Hothouse Orchid Brian Anderson

My Favourite Landscape / Garden Setting
Winner - Arcadia by Brian Kelley
Runner-Up - Tulips by Terry Cooper

Flowers in their natural, wild setting
Winner - Rustic Bluebells by David Jackson
Runner-Up - Rockingham Forest by Park Harry Bates

Flowers with pets or other animals
Winner - Peek-a-boo by Joanne Campbell
Runner-Up - My Orange Clivia by Harry Bates

Prize Draw: Phil Hodges from Carrickfergus with Alderman May Beattie (pictured above). Phil won the ‘Win an Camera' Competition, the prize was a Olympus fe-5030.







View all Virtual Flower Show winners.

Friday, 24 September 2010

Tallest Sunflower Competition Winners Announced


The winner and runners-up of the Carrickfergus in Bloom Tallest Sunflower Competition have been announced today.

The winner: Naomi Kinnon aged 7 from Carrickfergus whose sunflower grew over 3 meters. The runners-up are Sarah, Scott & Thomas Alexander from Carrickfergus & Rebecca Boyd from Carrickfergus.

Stephen Daye, Parks & Countryside Officer explained “Carrickfergus Borough Council distributed in March, two thousand packets of Sunflower seeds to local school children as part of the Carrickfergus in Bloom initiative. After months of tender loving care by the young people it’s great to see the end results. The time and dedication many entrants spend on tending their sunflowers is extraordinary and is a credit too them."

New report shows how school gardening benefits children


Research commissioned by the Royal Horticultural Society shows the enormous impact that gardening plays in a child’s wellbeing, learning and development. The report demonstrates that gardening in schools encourages children to:

• Become stronger, more active learners capable of thinking independently and adapting their skills and knowledge to new challenges at school and in the future
• Gain a more resilient, confident and responsible approach to life so they can achieve their goals and play a positive role in society
• Learn vital jobs skills such as presentation, communication and team work, and develop their entrepreneurial spirit
• Embrace a healthier, more active lifestyle as an important tool for success at school and beyond
• Develop the ability to work and communicate with people from all ages and backgrounds.

The research was carried out by the National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER) and published in June 2010. The NFER surveyed 1,300 school teachers and studied in depth ten schools belonging to the RHS Campaign for School Gardening, ranging from a large urban primary in London to a small village school in Yorkshire.

Read report summary
Read full report

Monday, 20 September 2010

Best Kept Allotment Winners Announced


Carrickfergus Borough Council has announced the winners of the Best Kept Allotment sponsored by Sunnybank Garden Centre.

The winners are:

• Winner: Godfrey Robinson, Carrickfergus.
• Runner-Up: William Robinson, Carrickfergus.
• Runner-Up: Maggi Watson, Greenisland.

What the judges looked for environment sustainability; the variety & quality of the crop; the control of weeds & rubbish; the use of compost; general appearance; creativity of each plot. The prizes are: 1st Prize: £60.00 Gift Voucher plus two Runner-Up Prizes: £35.00 Gift Voucher. The award ceremony will take place at the October Carrickfergus in Bloom Prize Giving lunch.

Stephen Daye, Parks & Countryside Development Officer said “Carrickfergus Borough Council is committed to improving the quality of life for all the people of Borough through the services it provides including our allotment service. We opened are allotment site at Eden two years ago. What started as 36 plots has grown to 189 plots. Eden Allotment Gardens is now the largest allotment site in Ireland and Carrickfergus Borough Council is the top allotment provider in Northern Ireland. I would encourage residents of the Borough to visit Eden Allotment Gardens off Beltoy Road to view what the allotmenteers have achieved in the past year. The quality of the plots did make it difficult to pick our winners but all allotment holders should be proud of their achievements. We would like to thank Sunnybank Garden Centre who kindly sponsored the Best Kept Allotment Competition.”

Thursday, 9 September 2010

Winners Announced for Community Garden Competition

Alderman May Beattie, Chairperson of the Parks, Countryside and Amenities Sub-Committee has announced the Carrickfergus in Bloom Competition Winners and Runners-up this morning for the Borough-wide Best Kept Awards.

Alderman Beattie said “We are delighted to announce the Carrickfergus in Bloom Community Competition Winners and Runners-up. I am thrilled with the response from those taking part and am really excited about the quality and diversity of the entrants. It has been an opportunity for me to see the wealth and variety of horticultural talent in our community. Winners and runners-up will be invited to a prize-giving ceremony at the Town Hall in October to receive their certificates and prizes. At the ceremony we shall announce our plans for Carrickfergus in Bloom in the coming year. I would also like to thank the sponsors for supporting Carrickfergus in Bloom." ended Alderman Beattie

Stephen Daye, Parks & Countryside Development Officer with Carrickfergus Borough Council and one of the judges commented "We where very impressed by the number of high quality entries this year, the time and dedication many entrants spend in their gardens is a credit too them. Deciding on a winner was very difficult for some categories; however all who took part should be proud of their achievements."

Best Kept Garden

Winner: Joan Reid, Carrickfergus.
Runner-Up: John O’Neill, Carrickfergus.
Runner-Up: Chris Hamil, Whitehead.
Runner-Up: Bill Johnston, Carrickfergus.

Best Kept Container Garden

Winner: Annette Keith, Carrickfergus.
Runner-Up: Christopher Betts, Carrickfergus.
Runner-Up: Robert Welch, Eden.
Runner-Up: Ruth Hickey, Carrickfergus.

Best Kept Community Planting Scheme

Winner: Brooklands Drive Residents Association, Whitehead.
Runner-Up: Charles Sheils Charity, Carrickfergus.
Runner-Up: Greenisland Environmental and Heritage Group, Greenisland.
Runner-Up: Carrickfergus Town Centre Display (Carrickfergus Chamber of Commerce)

Best Kept Commercial Premises

Winner: The Gallery, Carrickfergus.
Runner-Up: McMasters Butchers, Whitehead.
Runner-Up: Glam Hair and Beauty Salon, Whitehead.
Runner-Up: Northern Bank Limited, Carrickfergus.

Best Kept Pub or Hotel

Winner: Coffee and Cream, Whitehead.
Runner-Up: Brewers Fayre, Carrickfergus.
Runner-Up: Hillcrest, Carrickfergus.

See Carrickfergus in Bloom competition website.

Results of Translink Ulster in Bloom 2010 Competition

Gardeners responsible for Northern Ireland’s best plant and floral displays celebrated today (Thursday 2nd September 2010) at the results ceremony for the 2010 Translink Ulster in Bloom Competition. The Borough won three awards with Carrickfergus coming second in the large town category. Carrickfergus Station came second in the Best Station Award and the Brighter Whitehead Community came first in the Community Rail Halt Award for their hard work at Whitehead Train Station. Speaking at the results ceremony in the elegant surroundings of Lissanoure Castle, Loughguile, County Antrim, Veronica Palmer, Chairman, Translink, said: “2010 marks the 32nd year of Ulster in Bloom and attracted 130 entries representing local councils, community organisations and businesses as well as 36 bus and train stations. Despite some challenging weather conditions, participants have produced exquisite and clever floral and plant displays capable of transforming areas and delighting both local people and visitors, enhancing social and economic prosperity. It is great to see that many areas have sustained their impressive flair for horticulture and retained their Ulster in Bloom title and it is also encouraging to welcome newcomers into the top spots demonstrating the growing appeal of the competition. I would like to congratulate all our winners and runners-up and I hope their delightful displays will provide inspiration for others to try their hand at gardening.”

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

Virtual Flower Show Voting Starts


Voting has started on the Carrickfergus in Bloom Virtual Flower Show. Stephen Daye, Carrickfergus in Bloom Coordinator explained "The Virtual Flower Show is a web based competition that encourages people to submit to the Virtual Flower Show website (www.virtualflowershow.org) a favourite photograph taken during the last year, which fits one of the classes".

•My Garden
•My Favourite Outdoor Plant
•My Favourite Indoor Plant
•My Favourite Landscape or Garden Setting
•Flowers in their natural, wild setting
•Flowers with pets or other animals

"The Carrickfergus in Bloom Virtual Flower Show affords the community an opportunity to view and vote on the horticultural work of local people. I would encourage borough residents to log-on to the Carrickfergus Borough Council website to view the entries. The quality of the work is very high and the willingness of local people to display their Carrickfergus in Bloom themed work is commendable."

"Voting is easy just log on to www.virtualflowershow.org and pick your favourite photograph. The photo in each category that receives the most votes wins. The winners and runner-up will be invited to a prize-giving ceremony at the Town Hall in October to receive their certificates and prizes."

Tuesday, 17 August 2010

Tallest Sunflower Competition


1st September is the last day applications will be accepted for the Carrickfergus in Bloom Tallest Sunflower Competition.

Alderman May Beattie, Chairperson of Parks, Countryside & Amenities Sub-Committee is asking those young gardening enthusiasts who have not filled in their application to do so before 1st September. "Carrickfergus Borough Council in April handed out Sunflower seeds to Carrickfergus Borough primary and secondary school children as part of the Carrickfergus in Bloom initiative. We distributed application forms to each householder in the Borough and have been amazed by the number of applications and photos received to date, the competition is really catching the imagination of the public. Last year’s winner Sophie Montgomery aged 11 from Carrickfergus grew a sunflower of 3 meters 60cm. “

“Applicants for the Tallest Sunflower Competition are requested to measure their sunflower during the last week of August using a metric tape measure and complete the application form. Additional application forms are available from the Carrickfergus Museum & Civic Centre, Local Newspapers or from the Carrickfergus in Bloom website: www.carrickfergusinbloom.org”

“The Carrickfergus in Bloom Children's Community Competitions have a total prize fund of £350. Other competitions include Poetry and Painting; entries for these competitions must be received by 30th September.”

"Everybody who lives within the Borough of Carrickfergus is invited to take part in Carrickfergus in Bloom as there is something for everyone. By entering you not only brighten up your own house but you also aid our borough's entry to the Ulster in Bloom & Britain in Bloom competitions." ended Alderman Beattie

The winners and runner-up will be invited to a prize-giving ceremony at the Town Hall in October to receive their certificates and prizes.

Link: Sunflower Competition

Thursday, 29 July 2010

Report claims parks help kids with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder

As Love Parks Week kicks off, encouraging people all across the country to appreciate the beauty of our parks, a new report from the UK body for public health specialists shows that parks may be beneficial to our health as well. The Faculty of Public Health report “The Great Outdoors: How Our Natural Health Service Uses Green Space To Improve Wellbeing” says parks are essential to our mental wellbeing. Nature’s impact on mental conditions in children such as depression or Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), has shown to be more effective than prescribed drugs because of the physical activity involved in outdoor leisure activities.

Lantra, the Sector Skills Council for environmental and land-based industries, helps ensure the UK has the right skills to keep our parks in tip-top condition. David Winn, Lantra’s horticulture, landscaping and sports turf manager, said: “Encouraging people into a career in landscaping is essential for the maintenance of our parks.

This report says poor mental health costs the UK economy £2.6 billion a year, so if parks can indeed help change this that’s good news. But don’t forget our parks need a highly skilled workforce to keep our green spaces accessible to everyone.” Not only do parks have a positive impact on visitors but they can help those working in them too.

Susan Stuart, Battersea Park garden manager at horticultural therapy charity Thrive said: “There’s tangible evidence that gardening creates a sense of wellbeing. There’s so many things you can do with gardening, such as help people to develop, achieve and feel good about themselves and what they do.”

To read more about how green spaces can impact our health, download the report at www.lantra.co.uk.

Bashfordsland Wood Big Butterfly Count

Carrickfergus Borough residents joined Catherine Bertrand from Butterfly Conservation Northern Ireland to discover what butterfly species they could find at Bashfordsland Wood for the Big Butterfly Count on Wednesday 28th July.

Eden Allotment Gardens Moth Hunt

Have enclosed some photographs from the Eden Allotment Gardens Moth Hunt on 27th & 28th July 2010.





See more photographs of the Moth Hunt at www.edenallotments.co.uk.

Thursday, 22 July 2010

Get snap happy this summer

“Are you a keen photographer? If so then there are two photography competitions that will interest you. Carrickfergus in Bloom’s Virtual Flower Show with a £450 prize fund and “Postcards from the Park” 2010, a national photography competition organised by parks charity GreenSpace with a £1000 prize fund.

“The Virtual Flower Show is an opportunity for Carrickfergus Borough residents to show off their photographic and gardening skills in this internet based competition” said Stephen Daye, Parks & Countryside Development Officer. Borough residents are requested to submit before 21st August a favourite photograph taken during the last year, which fits one of the six categories:

My Garden
My Favourite Outdoor Plant
My Favourite Indoor Plant
My Favourite Landscape or Garden Setting
Flowers in their natural, wild setting
Flowers with pets or other animals

Entries may be submitted in jpeg format to the Virtual Flower Show website www.virtualflowershow.org. Enter the Virtual Flower Show before 21st August and you will be automatically entered into a free prize draw to win an Olympus Digital Camera.

“Postcards from the Park” highlights the unique part that parks play in community life.” said Environmentalist and presenter, Chris Packham. "Parks are great places to take photos and there’ll be no problem finding loads of interesting subject matter, from wildlife to trees, and people having fun to detailed features on a bandstand or building. We are always impressed with the flair of photos we receive and I'm sure this year's entries will be even better." To enter “Postcards from the Park” visit www.postcardsfromthepark.org.uk.

Paul Bramhill, of GreenSpace, said: “Postcards from the Park is an excellent way for everyone to get out and about and enjoy their local public park. This competition has now become one of the highlights of the parks’ calendar and I am looking forward to seeing all the entries.”

For further information contact Stephen Daye, Parks & Countryside Development Officer at Carrickfergus Borough Council. T: (028) 93358039 or E: inbloom@carrickfergus.org

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Love Parks Week in Carrickfergus Borough


Love Parks Week 2010 will take place between Saturday 24th July and Sunday 1st August. We are asking as many people as possible to get into parks to join our campaign for continued investment and support for these valuable assets. Love Parks Week is an annual UK campaign, organised by parks charity GreenSpace. The campaign has been established as a major event that is celebrated in parks across the country.

In Carrickfergus Borough we have a number of events.

Shakepeare's Much Ado About Nothing: Don't miss the now annual outdoor theatre production of one of Shakepeare's finest plays, 'Much Ado About Nothing' on Saturday 24 July at Shaftesbury Park, Carrickfergus. Gates open Saturday: 6.30pm; Show starts 7.30pm. Admission is Free, but entry is strictly on a first-come, first-served basis, so arrive early to avoid disappointment. Don't forget to bring a picnic and dress appropriately for the outdoor weather conditions!

Alice through the Looking Glass: For the first year, this event will include a special performance of the children's classic 'Alice through the Looking Glass' on Sunday 25 July making a special afternoon out for all the family.
Gates open at Shaftesbury Park, Carrickfergus on Sunday: 2pm; Show starts 3pm. Admission is Free, but entry is strictly on a first-come, first-served basis, so arrive early to avoid disappointment. Don't forget to bring a picnic and dress appropriately for the outdoor weather conditions!

Big Moth Hunt: Date: Tuesday 27th July (7.30 to 9pm) & Venue: Eden Allotment Gardens, Beltoy Road, Eden. Join Catherine Bertrand from Butterfly Conservation Northern Ireland and discover what moth species you can find at Eden Allotment Gardens, Beltoy Road, Eden. Fun FREE event for all. FREE Butterfly ID Chart for all participants. Under 18's must be accompanied by an adult. This event continues the following morning at 10am to ID what has been discovered.

Moth Identification Event: Date: Wednesday 28th July (10am) & Venue: Eden Allotment Gardens, Beltoy Road, Eden. This follows on from the Big Moth Hunt on Tuesday 27th at Eden Allotment Gardens.

Big Butterfly Count: Date: Wednesday 28th July (11.30am to 1pm) & Venue: Bashfordsland Wood (Meet at Oakfield Community Centre). Join Catherine Bertrand from Butterfly Conservation Northern Ireland and discover what species you can find at Bashfordsland Wood. Fun FREE event for all. FREE Butterfly ID Chart for all participants. Under 18's must be accompanied by an adult.

Seashore Safari: Date: Saturday 31st July 2010 from 12 to 1.30pm & Meet at Blackhead Path Car Park, Whitehead. Flora and Fauna Rocks! Explore the flora, fauna and geology of Blackhead Path and shoreline. Visit the weird and wonderful habitat that exists along Blackhead Path with Geologist Ian Enlander from the Irish Whale & Dolphin Group and Botanist John Wann.

Would You Like An Event In Your Local Park? Then please contact us, see details below.

For further information please contact: Stephen Daye, Parks & Countryside Development Officer. Telephone: 028 9335 8039 ~ E-Mail: parks@carrickfergus.org . To visit the Love Parks Week Website go to: www.loveparksweek.org.uk

Postcards from the Park
As if all these lovely events weren’t enough, you can also win £1,000 of Jessops vouchers simply by taking a great photo of your park. GreenSpace has teamed up with the Heritage Lottery Fund and the Big Lottery Fund to bring you the Postcards from the Park photography competition. It ends along with Love Parks Week on 1st August, so take a peek at www.postcardsfromthepark.org.uk and get snapping!

LINK: Love Parks Week in Carrickfergus

Friday, 25 June 2010

Making Butterflies Count


The last three years have seen butterflies in the UK experience the most dramatic decline in numbers since records began, with almost half of them now under threat. To help bring an end to this, Marks & Spencer and Butterfly Conservation are teaming up to launch Making Butterflies Count.

The Making Butterflies Count initiative targets both M&S customers and suppliers to raise awareness about the importance of butterflies and moths and encourage them to take action to reverse their devastating declines. This valuable partnership is part of the retailer's eco-plan, Plan A commitment to be the world's most sustainable retailer by 2015.

Sir David Attenborough, President of Butterfly Conservation, said: "Butterflies are wonderful, extraordinary creatures. Numbers have been falling, but Butterfly Conservation scientists have demonstrated that these declines can be reversed. They have also found that when you change the environment to help butterflies thrive, all sorts of other wildlife benefits too. Nature comes back to life. I'm delighted Marks & Spencer is working with Butterfly Conservation and I wish them every success implementing their ambitious Plan A commitments."

Butterflies and moths are very sensitive to environmental change, which makes them a very good indicator of the health of the countryside. They are essential for the pollination of plants and caterpillars provide food for many birds and other wildlife. If the UK lost all of its butterflies and moths, farmers would see a big drop in numbers of other wildlife and impacts on crop yields.

Richard Gillies, M&S Director of Plan A, commented: "We want to lead the way in making a positive contribution to the environment and society across everything we do and everything we sell. Our partnership with Butterfly Conservation is a great opportunity for us to raise awareness with both our farmers and our customers about the importance of butterflies. We hope that our campaign will be a major way of helping to reverse the long-term decline of butterflies and moths, as well as enhancing the habitats for wildlife and improving the environment for us all."

As part of the Butterfly Conservation partnership, M&S wants to engage all of it's farmers in the UK to help protect the butterfly. Over the next 12 months Butterfly Conservation will visit key M&S farmers, and all M&S farmers will be given advice on how to encourage and maintain more butterflies on their farms.

The retailer is launching a range of butterfly related products including plants which attract butterflies, butterfly adorned products such as t-shirts and jewellery, to help raise awareness about the importance of butterflies, whilst M&S will also be making a donation from the sale of the products to Butterfly Conservation.

Richard Gillies continued: "We want to make it as easy as possible for all our customers and farmers to get involved - with the launch of the Big Butterfly Count, our fantastic range of products, and also the support our farmers will be getting from Butterfly Conservation, there should be something for everyone."

Link: Butterfly Conservation Campaign
Link: Carrickfergus in Bloom Blooming Wild!

Friday, 18 June 2010

2010 Translink Ulster in Bloom Competition


The 2010 Translink Ulster in Bloom Competition was launched yesterday (Thursday 17th June) in the sunny natural surroundings of Castle Espie Wetland Centre, County Down. Representatives from Carrickfergus Borough attended the event.

This year there are 130 entries representing councils, community groups and businesses as well as 36 bus and train stations. Supported by the Northern Ireland Local Government Association (NILGA) and the Northern Ireland Tourist Board (NITB), the awards are now in their 32nd year and continue to attract the very highest standards of plant and floral displays.

Speaking at the official launch, Translink Chairman Veronica Palmer said it is important that Northern Ireland continues to look after its unique living landscapes. “Our Ulster in Bloom participants play an important role in cities, towns and villages by not only creating beautiful plant and floral arrangements for local people and visitors to enjoy but also by supporting biodiversity; providing vital habitats for local wildlife to flourish and sustaining natural eco-systems.

“The exceptional standard of entries last year shows that Northern Ireland has a flair and passion for horticulture and we want to reward those individuals and organisations who make that extra effort to enhance their natural surroundings.”

President, Northern Ireland Local Government Association, Councillor John Mathews said “The Translink Ulster in Bloom competition has made, and continues to make a remarkable contribution to the improvement and enhancement of the villages, towns and cities across Northern Ireland. The competition was started back in 1979 by the Northern Ireland Tourist Board, since then it has grown considerably, this year receiving 130 entries.

“It is my pleasure to congratulate and thank the participating councils, their staff and local residents for their interest, enthusiasm and horticultural contribution which further enhances the communities in which we live. NILGA members are very pleased to support this event and the sponsors. We will also continue to support councils as they recognise the value of supporting Ulster in Bloom. I wish all entrants every success”.

Board member, Northern Ireland Tourist Board, Alistair McGowan said “The Ulster in Bloom competition is an invaluable tool for attracting visitors; it also ensures that their stay in Northern Ireland is even more pleasant. If our visitors have an enjoyable and memorable time they will spread the good word.

“An increase in the ‘staycation’ trend shows how holidaymakers have decided to stay in Northern Ireland rather than travel abroad. Destinations at home are perfect for an affordable weekend away and families can enjoy days out at a wide range of Northern Ireland’s finest attractions, taking in many of the beautiful towns and villages which are adorned with flowerbeds, hanging baskets, trees and floral displays. All of the entrants should be proud of their hard work.”

For further information on the 2010 Translink Ulster in Bloom Competition click ww.translink.co.uk or for local information click www.carrickfergusinbloom.org.

Thursday, 17 June 2010

Swan kill condemned


Carrickfergus Borough Council has condemned the killing of a swan at the Amphitheatre Wildlife Ponds in Carrickfergus. Stephen Daye, Parks & Countryside Development Officer with Carrickfergus Borough Council said "The swan was killed by a single shot crossbow sometime yesterday evening (9th June 2010) from a dart lodged in its neck. The bird's mate and seven cygnets’ were thankfully not injured during the vicious attack at the wildlife ponds off Prince William Way in Carrickfergus. The police have been contacted and have launched an inquiry after the dead bird was discovered on Thursday morning." "The swan would have died a slow and painful death and it is vital that those responsible or those who have evidence pertaining to this attack contact the police immediately. Whoever is responsible must be found so that we can prevent other animals from falling victim to this kind of senseless violence. We see far too many cases where people seem to think they can simply use animals for target practice." The offenders could face a fine of up to £5,000 under the The Wildlife (Northern Ireland) Order 1985.

Wednesday, 26 May 2010

Best Kept Allotment Judging Date Announced


The Eden Allotment Gardens Best Allotment Competition, sponsored by Sunnybank Garden Centre is to take place at the beginning of July this year.

Stephen Daye, Parks & Countryside Development Officer with Carrickfergus Borough Council said “It’s part of the Carrickfergus in Bloom Competition. Each year the village enters Translink Ulster in Bloom (which is part of Britain in Bloom) along with the other Borough towns of Carrickfergus, Whitehead and Greenisland.”

Not only is Eden as a whole going to be judged, but also the allotments within it where keen gardeners who have been tending their plots of land will have their efforts recognised. This competition involves everyone who owns an allotment at the Eden site.

The ‘in Bloom’ competitions focus on creating a cleaner and greener environment through action in the community. The areas where participants can earn top marks are in horticultural achievement, environmental responsibility and community participation.

The judges will be looking for: environment sustainability; the variety & quality of the crop; the control of weeds & rubbish; the use of compost; general appearance; creativity of each plot.

The Best Allotment Competition prizes are: 1st Prize: £60.00 Gift Voucher plus two Runner-Up Prizes: £35.00 Gift Voucher. The award ceremony will take place at the October Carrickfergus in Bloom Prize Giving lunch.

Stephen Daye, Parks & Countryside Development Officer continued “Carrickfergus Borough Council is committed to improving the quality of life for all the people of Borough through the services it provides including our Allotment Service. We opened are allotment site at Eden in 2008. What started as 36 plots has grown to 198 plots and we are now the largest allotment gardens in Ireland. I would encourage residents of the Borough to visit Eden Allotment Gardens off Beltoy Road to view what the allotmenteers have achieved. The quality of the plots will make it difficult to pick our winners but all allotment holders should be proud of their achievements. We would like to thank Sunnybank Garden Centre who kindly sponsored the Best Kept Allotment Competition. Those residents that do not have an allotment can join our Mayor and take the ‘One Pot Pledge’ or just put up a floral basket or window box”

Thursday, 20 May 2010

Foster Carers at Eden Allotments


Foster Care Fortnight got off to a sizzling start at Eden Allotment Gardens in Carrickfergus this week. A barbecue was hosted at Eden Allotments, where 10 foster families from the Borough grow their own vegetables. Guests were treated to a cookery demonstration using the produce harvested at the site.

Underpinning the event was the serious message that fostering in Northern Ireland is under increasing pressure due to the continuing rise in numbers of children needing care and the ongoing shortage of carers.

With more children coming into care, the Fostering Network says that 200 extra foster carers are urgently needed to look after children on a long-term basis, in most cases until they reach adulthood.

Foster carers are needed for children of all ages, but specifically for teenagers, who now make up 50 per cent of the care population. All children in foster care, whatever their age and background, need carers with a diverse range of skills who can make a real and lasting difference to their lives.

Foster Care Fortnight 2010 runs from 17 to 30 May, and highlights the need for more foster carers in Northern Ireland to provide long-term care for children.

Link: www.fostering.net/northern-ireland

Wednesday, 19 May 2010

Launch of Carrickfergus in Bloom 2010


The Chairperson of the Parks, Countryside and Amenities Sub-Committee, Alderman May Beattie, launched the Carrickfergus in Bloom 2010 campaign in the grounds of the historic Andrew Jackson Cottage on Friday. School children from throughout Carrickfergus Borough and Community representatives also joined in to the sounds of the APEX Jazz Band.

"Carrickfergus Borough Council is encouraging everyone who lives within the Borough of Carrickfergus to ‘do one more thing’ for Carrickfergus in Bloom. Whether you fill a hanging basket, enter one of the 10 competitions, plant a tree, grow some fruit and vegetables or put up bird box. There is something for everyone to do to make our Borough bloom this year.” said Alderman Beattie.

"The Council will be planting thousands of summer and spring flowering plants, hundreds hanging baskets as well as thousands of spring flowering bulbs this year. Our tree-planting initiative and the continued reduction of bedding plants in favour of more permanent planting are the ways we are enhancing the environment and biodiversity of Carrickfergus Borough for today and for tomorrow." continued Alderman Beattie


"We will again be organising the Borough-wide Carrickfergus in Bloom Community Competitions. Local communities are encouraged to take part by entering the Best Kept Front Garden and Window Box Competitions. Allotment holders at Eden can enter the Best Kept Allotment Competition sponsored by Sunnybank Garden Centre. Children can take part in the Painting, Poetry, and Tallest Sunflower competitions. Local businesses will also be asked to participate by entering the Best Kept Shop and other Commercial premises section. And Web users and keen photographers can enter the Virtual Flower Show. continued Alderman Beattie

“Carrickfergus Borough Council along with the Department of Environment, Housing Executive and various Community Groups are working together to improve the beauty of Carrickfergus with the use of flowers, colourful shrubs and trees. The significant improvements at the Marine Highway is an excellent example of partnership working." ended Alderman Beattie

Tuesday, 18 May 2010

Mayor of Carrickfergus joins ‘One Pot Pledge


The Mayor of Carrickfergus, Alderman Patricia McKinney unveiled her mini allotment in a pot and has taken up the ‘One Pot Pledge’. The Mayor will be growing vegetables, herbs and even strawberries at the Carrickfergus Civic Centre courtyard this summer.

Alderman McKinney said "We want to encourage Carrickfergus Citizens to make the One Pot Pledge and sow, grow and harvest their own food for the very first time in 2010."

"Growing food, even on a small scale in just a pot, gives people the chance to connect with the food they eat. As well as saving money and encouraging healthier eating, growing fruit and vegetables also helps people to make more sustainable food choices."

"We are trying to promote growing your own food and vegetables, getting families and children involved and getting their hands dirty. It's a growing movement throughout the country and we're just hoping to encourage that within our Borough too."

"Carrickfergus Borough has already an excellent track record at encouraging our citizens to grow their own. The Borough is the home of the largest allotment site in Ireland and we have successfully run the Carrickfergus School Growing Clubs initiative that encourages pupils to grow and eat fruit and vegetables in their school grounds." ended Alderman McKinney.

The Mayor is not the only politician embracing the "grow your own" movement. David Cameron will be taking over Gordon Brown’s vegetable garden at Downing Street. Barack Obama has a herb and vegetable patch at the White House. And even the Queen has turned a corner of palace backyard into an allotment.

To join the campaign, go to Carrickfergus in Bloom website, http://www.carrickfergusinbloom.org/onepotpledge.htm which features growing advice and tips." At the site you can follow the Mayor’s progress and even upload your own photographs to show how your own ‘One Pot Pledge’ is growing!

Tuesday, 4 May 2010

'Green' exercise quickly 'boosts mental health'

Just five minutes of exercise in a "green space" such as a park can boost mental health, researchers claim. There is growing evidence that combining activities such as walking or cycling with nature boosts well-being. In the latest analysis, UK researchers looked at evidence from 1,250 people in 10 studies and found fast improvements in mood and self-esteem. The study in the Environmental Science and Technology journal suggested the strongest impact was on young people. The research looked at many different outdoor activities including walking, gardening, cycling, fishing, boating, horse-riding and farming in locations such as a park, garden or nature trail. The biggest effect was seen within just five minutes. With longer periods of time exercising in a green environment, the positive effects were clearly apparent but were of a smaller magnitude, the study found. Looking at men and women of different ages, the researchers found the health changes - physical and mental - were particularly strong in the young and the mentally-ill.

A bigger effect was seen with exercise in an area that also contained water - such as a lake or river. Study leader Jules Pretty, a researcher at the University of Essex, said those who were generally inactive, or stressed, or with mental illness would probably benefit the most from "green exercise". "Employers, for example, could encourage staff in stressful workplaces to take a short walk at lunchtime in the nearest park to improve mental health." He also said exercise programmes outdoors could benefit youth offenders. "A challenge for policy makers is that policy recommendations on physical activity are easily stated but rarely adopted widely."

Paul Farmer, chief executive of mental health charity Mind, said the research is yet further evidence that even a short period of green exercise can provide a low cost and drug-free therapy to help improve mental wellbeing. "It's important that people experiencing depression can be given the option of a range of treatments, and we would like to see all doctors considering exercise as a treatment where appropriate." Mind runs a grant scheme for local environmental projects to help people with mental illness get involved in outdoor activities.

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

Peat-free garden centre composts better than peat, says Which? Gardening

Carrickfergus Borough Council has been using peat free compost for years now but it has now been found that peat-free compost is out-performed its peat-containing rivals for the first time, according to tests by Which? Gardening. The magazine has awarded "best buys" for container compost to three peat-free varieties — Vital Earth Tub and Basket Compost, William Sinclair New Horizon Multi-Purpose Compost and Vital Earth Multi-Purpose Compost. But no peat-containing compost met best buy standards in Which? Gardening trials. Which? scored Scotts Miracle-Gro Moisture Control Compost the lowest total overall, with "plants performing poorly from the start and showing signs of nutrient deficiency within the first few weeks." Which? performed the tests in spring 2009 on Impatiens "Pink Sparkle" and "Sarpo Mira" seed potatoes in 624 containers, testing 26 multi-purpose, John Innes and specific container composts. A slow-release fertiliser was incorporated into each pot at the start and then pots were watered no more than once a day during the trial. Experts assessed the Impatiens for flowering and vigour on 3 occasions between June and October. The potatoes were harvested in August and their yield and quality recorded. Which? Gardening also recorded how often each pot required watering. Visit the Carrickfergus Borough Council website on biodiversity.

Dolphins at Blackhead Path

Thanks to Baba from Portugal who while walking along the Blackhead Path in Whitehead shoot this video of dolphins. To visit Baba's blog go to shantipilgrim.blogspot.com.

video

Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Make the One Pot Pledge


Carrickfergus Borough Council is backing a nationwide campaign launched today by Garden Organic that will target a growing band of people that want to have a go at growing their own food for the first time. The campaign, the One Pot Pledge, aims to help gardening newcomers to grow an edible crop by using simple steps and clear advice to encourage and enthuse them.

Stephen Daye, Parks & Countryside Development Officer said "We want to encourage Carrickfergus Citizens to make the One Pot Pledge and sow, grow and harvest their own food for the very first time in 2010. It is expected that 30,000 people throughout the UK will take the pledge."

"Growing food, even on a small scale in just a pot, gives people the chance to connect with the food they eat. As well as saving money and encouraging healthier eating, growing fruit and vegetables also helps people to make more sustainable food choices."

"Despite the surge in interest in 'grow your own' many newcomers, although keen to have a go, still don't know where to start when it comes to food growing. Many are put off because they think they don't have space to garden, or because they don't have the time or knowledge. By encouraging people to start small with just one pot, the One Pot Pledge campaign aims to combat this, promising to make growing easy and successful. To join the campaign, go to The One Pot Pledge website, www.onepotpledge.org, which features everything from downloadable growing advice and tips."

Gardening Guru and BBC Gardeners' World presenter Alys Fowler says, "Eating food that you've grown yourself is one of life's great pleasures and one that everyone should have the chance to enjoy. With the One Pot Pledge campaign we want to inspire and support people to try something new and experience the joy of growing their own food from seed to harvest."

According to Garden Organic, research last year showed that 26%* of the UK had grown its own. The charity says that if every one of those people encouraged just one person to also give it a go then there would be over 6 million new gardeners experiencing the joy of sowing, growing and eating their own produce in 2010.

To pledge to be part of the campaign you can sign up at www.onepotpledge.org from Monday 22 March 2010. After making the pledge, you will be invited to pick a favourite from the suggested easy to grow varieties, follow the growing instructions and tips, check progress from regular email updates, and look forward to harvest time.

None of the crops featured are difficult to grow and include potatoes, salads, french beans and chillis. More experienced gardeners signing up to the pledge will be encouraged to have a go at growing something new, that they have not tried before.

As well as providing simple and clear guidance, Garden Organic also wants experienced gardeners to join the campaign as 'Gardening Gurus'. It hopes that gurus will encourage and support those with less experience to make their first attempt at food growing a success.

Bob Sherman, Head of Horticulture at Garden Organic says, "Garden Organic's work is all about passing on knowledge and providing encouragement. We hope that experienced gardeners will also join the campaign and along with a non-gardening friend, colleague or family member, make the pledge together. "

"One of the best incentives for a beginner is having a friendly face to turn to for help and advice and as gardeners we tend to love sharing our passion and knowledge. We want the nation's gardeners to join us and share their love of growing delicious, sustainable food to get thousands more people growing their own."

Monday, 22 March 2010

On the Farm

On BBC Radio 4 last Sunday the 'On the Farm' programme visited a Sheffield school which is growing its own food to teach pupils where their meals come from. Emmanuel Junior School will use the food in school dinners and sell any excess in local farmers' markets. Charlotte finds out how the project aims to connect youngsters with local city farms. To lisiten visit their website.

Vanishing of the Bees

Saw a great film the other day called Vanishing of the Bees. The film tracks the decline of the honey bee population in the Uk and throughout the world. see the website www.vanishingbees.co.uk for further details.

Thursday, 18 March 2010

Detroit's farming rebirth

Sacha Workman from Holywood Transition Town (www.holywoodtransitiontown.org) sent us an interesting and up lifting article from Radio 4 on Requiem for Detroit, which tells the story of the city through the 20th century, conveying its transition from Motor City to its rebirth as an urban prairie. Principal Asenath Andrews who is teaching Detroit's single mothers to become farmers, describes how the city is changing. To listen to the article visit the BBC website.

Tuesday, 9 March 2010

Trees and Urban Climate Adaptation

The Treework Environmental Practice organised a conference in London on 19 November 2009, focusing on the University of Manchester's research showing the influence of green infrastructure on the urban climate.The conference's aim was to mobilise policy makers and the wider community to ensure a sustainable urban forest canopy capable of meeting future climate adaptation needs. It was premised on the concept that the urban canopy agenda can be met by including climate adaptation within the national health and well-being agenda. Presentations are available online at www.treeworks.co.uk/seminars/past_seminars.php

Thursday, 4 March 2010

Litter: our legacy to future generations

Interesting article by Jeremy Paxman in the Guardian:

It's the real thing, all right. That plastic jewel glinting in the verge among the emerging daffodils is a plastic ­bottle. Probably an empty Coke one.

An organisation called ­Litter Heroes (surely the most unglamorous club in Britain?) has done something rather useful. They have traced where the crud that morons in cars chuck out of their windows originally comes from. No surprise to discover that the worst-offending brand is Coca-Cola (4.9% of all litter), followed by Walkers Crisps (4.1%) and McDonald's (3.6%).

And what does Coca-Cola say by way of apology? A company spokesman "acknowledges" the report. How very gracious of him. He goes on to blather that its bottles "carry the Tidy Man and Recycle Now logos". Well, that should do it.

There is more fatuous wittering from McDonald's, which even has the nerve to attempt a tone of wronged outrage, saying that "in 2009 we spent over £2m on staff labour alone" picking up ­litter. That's £2m out of a turn­over of more than £2bn in Britain.

Anyone who walks anywhere in this filthy country knows that what the 39 volunteers from Litter Heroes discovered is true. No one in their right mind talks any longer about a "green and pleasant land". A ­beautiful country is being submerged ­under a rising tide of rubbish.

Worst of all is the fact that whereas paper bags biodegrade, plastic bottles and confectionery wrappers last for generations. Our great-grandchildren will still be living among the gaudy wrapping of the chocolate bar we excreted last month.

The poor saps who have to act as apologists for the fizzy-drink and junk-food manufacturers never use the obvious argument because it would ­insult their customers. Why don't they try the tactic of US gun ­manufacturers, who say: "It's not guns that kill, it's people"? Of course, it's not the boss of Coke or Cadbury chucking the company products out of the car window; it's some oaf who doesn't understand that in tidying up his private space he's making the shared space filthy.

The turning of verges into rubbish tips is a symptom of the "everyone for himself" attitude that has come to dominate in the last 50 years. What can we do? Local councils are supposed to have a statutory duty to clear up litter, but are largely useless. Ditto the national government. The fault, dear Brutus, is in ourselves. At least future generations won't lack evidence of the kind of people we were.

Source: www.guardian.co.uk

Wednesday, 20 January 2010

Video of local MP Sammy Wilson on Eden Allotment Gardens available at www.edenallotments.org/video.