After the storms, Muddy Fork waits for spring

by | 5 April 2022 | Gardening Club, Group meeting, Hobbies, Retford, Social Group

Muddy Fork, Retford’s ‘gardening for wellbeing’ charity based at Idle Valley Nature Reserve, is still mopping up after February’s series of storms. The group was lucky only to close for three sessions during this time; the garden, however, did unfortunately suffer some damage and one of the tunnels no longer has a roof.

Although the tunnel has suffered great damage, the group is looking forward to a project re-skinning it. It’s not something they have done before but they are looking forward to the challenge and teamwork; any excuse to get together and light the BBQ is a good one. They are especially excited to get going in a brand new all-singing, all-dancing third polytunnel. With the weeks passing, the days getting longer, and the seeds all neatly sorted, Muddy Fork can’t wait to start growing again!

Everyone has been busy getting the tunnels ready for planting season. The floors are in, and the beds are being built – all by volunteers. Muddy Fork is grateful to Lucy Usher and team for delivering the stone no matter the weather. It’s been a great team effort to shift seven tons of stone but the benefit to the tunnels is worth it.

Some years ago, Muddy Fork embarked on a great project to try to grow black poplar trees from cuttings. The project was a great success and the team managed to successfully grow over 200 black poplars. This is even more of a success story as, according to the Forestry Commission, black poplars are the most endangered native tree in Britain. Some of these trees will be planted on site at Idle Valley and some are going to be planted along riversides; massive well done to everyone involved over the years.

Spring is in the garden with many of the trees in bud. With spring comes the warmer weather and the garden will start coming alive. There has also been much excitement in the garden over the barn owls nesting on site. The Wildlife Trust has gone above and beyond to get the nest camera working again and now the owls can be seen on the TV in the Idle Valley Centre. Keep everything crossed for some owlets – and check back here for future updates.

Muddy Fork is an inclusive garden open to anyone who feels they could benefit from what they offer. Please get in touch if you feel this is something that could help you, or you know someone you think would benefit from getting involved. The garden is a safe place where anyone can join in as much or as little as they want. You do not have to be a gardener or know anything about gardening; everybody learns together.

Muddy Fork is always happy to welcome visitors; look for the robin in the corner of the car park. For more details of the gardening sessions and on how to make a referral, visit, call 07421 356717 or email