March - Springing into Spring!
Springing into Spring!
It's that time of year again.
The snowdrops are flowering, the daffodils are on their way and a new spring is arriving. As the season of new beginnings, spring is known for bringing so much positivity into peoples lives.
Plus: it's time to get planting. Whether you are looking for inspiration to grow your own or to plant for wildlife, why not get excited, go outdoors and soak up the fresh breeze of spring.
Why parks are great for making a healthy you:
- Green spaces can improve social contacts and give people a sense of familiarity and belonging – cleaner, greener communities are places where people wish to live and work. They can promote social contact and connectivity, foster a sense of belonging, reduce isolation and loneliness and encourage a connection to nature
- Greener environments have been shown to reduce levels of depression, anxiety, and fatigue
- Improving access to green spaces promotes healthy behaviours, such as engaging in physical activity and other recreation, and connecting those spaces together can encourage active travel such as brisk walking or cycling
- Nearby green spaces, and green features such as pocket parks, street trees, green walls and roof gardens, also mitigate potential harm posed by the local environment – it can help to reduce exposure to air pollution, reduce the urban heat island effect, mitigate excessive noise and reduce flood risk, all of which can impair both physical and mental health
What can you do in spring?
There are lots of activities that you can do in the springtime:
- Go for a picnic in the park
- Go for a bike ride, either solo or with friends
- Go for a hike
- Do outdoor sports, like rounders, badminton, football and frisbee
- Visit a farm to see the lambs and calves
Turn over logs and rocks, is there anything there? What can you identify?
Things to do in our parks or at home
Daffodil challenge: every autumn, lots of local school children are involved with bulb planting in our local parks. In October 2021, around 300 children were involved in planting about 15,000 spring bulbs to brighten the borough.
Now spring has arrived, we have a challenge for you. From the pictures below, can you identify the parks containing these wonderful blooms?
Make spring 'rubbings': spring is full of different textures, from rough bark and smooth leaves to wet grass and silky flowers. Feel the textures of spring and try to capture those textures by making nature rubbings. Just hold a piece of paper on top of a textured surface and rub it with a crayon.
Have a go yourself with Forestry England's leaf rubbing worksheet!
Spring flower suncatchers
If you want a fun craft project to make with kids that will add some nature and colour to your home, try making flower suncatchers!
Start by collecting flowers that are bright and colourful. You can dry them flat under a book. Once flat and dry, seal the flowers between two pages of laminating paper or even between two pieces of glass (in a frame). Hang them in your window and let the sun shine through!
Find 50 things to do in spring, courtesy of the National Trust website.
Search for signs of spring
Take a stroll around your street or nearby park and search for signs of spring. Use all your senses to find spring; what can you see? What can you hear? What do you smell? How does spring feel?
While you are out and about, find a place where you can sit for a moment and, if you feel comfortable, close your eyes. Try and count as many different sounds as you can hear. If you are with family, you can do this together and see if you heard the same sounds.
You can also turn it into a fun game - try the RSPB's 'Spot It' game, with lots of different types of spotting sheets to choose from.
Do you have a favourite tree in Chesterfield?
They will be starting to unfurl their leaves after a period of rest. With this will come beautiful blossom and catkins. In March, you will start to see Hazel, Blackthorn, Silver Birch and Ash trees beginning to blossom.
Get started with the Woodland Trust's Tree ID for kids.
Spring is an exciting time for birds; they are flying to their summer homes to build nests and raise hatchlings. Attract birds to your home by building or setting up a bird feeder, or go in search of birds by visiting parks and ponds.
Why not go birdwatching? Download our bird spotter worksheet to get you started.
Have you been enjoying listening to the birds in the morning?
Why not head out to your local park and see if you can spot any - a pair of binoculars would come in handy.
Birds are elusive and can remain hidden so it might be hard to see them; therefore you'll need to be quiet and still.
Did you know that every bird has its own song? There are plenty of apps websites which can help you identify birds by their sounds - perhaps try the RSPB's Bird Song Identifier.
How to make the most of spring
Join a community garden: there are three wonderful community gardens in Chesterfield which are always looking for new members. They are beautiful tranquil spots in Chesterfield and Mastin Moor:
Create your own green space with an allotment: we own a number of allotment sites in Chesterfield - you can find more information about allotments in Chesterfield on our website.
Be advised, however that due to lockdowns caused by Covid-19, the demand for allotments has increased rapidly, some with very long waiting lists.
Get growing at home: if you own a garden, spring is a perfect time to get green-fingered and grow your own flowers, fruits and vegetables.
Growing your own food is not only cost-effective, but also much friendlier for the planet as well as a fun, physically active hobby to get into.
Visit Love The Garden for tips on what to grow throughout the year.
You could also choose to plant flowers which are great for bees and other pollinating insects. For tips on making your garden bee-friendly, visit the Bumblebee Conservation Trust's website.
The bumblebees are back...
Britain is home to 24 types of bumblebee, although most people will only see the eight most common bumblebees. The first two species to emerge in the springtime are the buff-tailed (bombus terrestris) and white-tailed bumblebee (bombus lucorum).
The buff-tailed is our largest bee species, and queens are an orange shade around the abdomen, whereas white-tailed possess more yellow stripes. Worker bees from both species, however, are difficult to tell apart.
The individuals emerging in March will be queen bees, who have slept underground or in bug hotels over the winter months. If you find a bee on the floor during this period, it is likely to have been knocked down by a rain shower, and it needs to get warm. If you’re feeling charitable, pick her up on a piece of card and move her somewhere warm and preferably sunny.
British bee numbers have had an alarmingly steep decline occurring across the country (and abroad) in both honey and bumble species, this being due to habitat loss, parasites and diseases. According to the BBC, wherever you live in the UK, your garden should be able to attract at least six species of bumblebee. Even a small window box can make a big difference to a bumblebee colony, with particular favourites being lavender, foxglove and honeysuckle. Bumblebees often nest in tussocks of long grass or moss, so try to leave areas of lawn free to grow wild – after all, it means less mowing for you!
Visit the Bumblebee Conservation Trust website for tips on how to identify bee species and a wide range of children's bee education resources.
Five Ways to Wellbeing
Winter is almost over, and it’s time for us to start to enjoy the great outdoors and the nature all around us.
But no matter where you live, there are simple steps you can take to improve mental wellbeing and resilience and experience the joy of wildlife watching and getting outdoors.
It's about trying to:
- Be active
- Keep learning
- Take notice
Visit the Derbyshire County Council to find out more about Five Ways to Wellbeing.