Old cardboard boxes are a good way to create an easy mulch for your garden or allotment over the winter, says Stroud Valleys Project.

Project Officer Nadine Smykatz-Kloss explained: “The tree planting season is now here so we are using corrugated cardboard as a mulch, which is a practical use for unwanted boxes and protect the roots of your plants at the same time.”    

sheetmulch5_displaySVP volunteers are using this technique on the new hedgerows they are planting in Slimbridge and Saul. They are aiming to put in 1,600 native plants over the winter.“A cardboard mulch put on at the base of a plant helps to prevent soil erosion, retains moisture in the soil, and keeps the roots of the plant warm. Corrugated cardboard, a readily available resource, will break down after one season, but acts as mulch over the winter and helps to suppress the growth of weeds,” said Nadine.

“We usually cover the cardboard with a bit of well rotted manure, bark or soil to hold it down.”


Anyone interested in using this technique can follow these easy steps:

  • Remove all the tape and staples from the box
  • Cut into easy-to-handle sheets
  • Place the pieces around the plant and extend it out from the base of the plant to provide adequate root coverage
  • Soak the cardboard with water and cover with manure, soil or bark

“The secret is to keep the cardboard moist so that it can do the job and not blow away, “said Nadine.

Walk_for_people_with_visual_impairment_re-sizedStroud Valleys Project’s new natural history walks are hot off the press! Designed for people with visual and hearing impairment who want to explore the countryside despite their disability, the walks offer the chance to learn about wildlife and habitats in a group of like-minded people. The walkers are fully supported by sighted and hearing guides.

 Wildflower walk





You could learn why ecologists get really excited about spotting water vole latrines, why orchids like a good fungal infection, just how much time you'd spend asleep if you were a dormouse, and exactly how bats manage to mate in the autumn and then delay gestation until the warmer spring days.

Orchid walk at Edge Common

For more information about the walks contact Ivi Szaboova on 01453 753358. 

Stroud Valleys Project volunteers were barely visible in the Himalayan Balsam jungle at the Lake at the Lawns, when they cleared this invasive species during a habitat workshop. The group were amazed to discover a plant which grew to a whopping 303cm.

the_tallest_himalayan_balsam_at_the_lake_at_the_lawnsIvi Szaboova, SVP’s biodiversity officer, explained: “Himalayan balsam is not native to Britain and it spreads rapidly along our riverbanks, suffocating native vegetation. One plant produces up to 800 seeds which can germinate under water and are viable for up to 18 months. The seedpods only have to be gently touched to make them ‘explode’ and scatter the seeds up to 7m. Once the plants die down, they leave riverbanks bare and this contributes to erosion of the soil.

 It grows 1-2m high but we have never seen one as tall as the plant found by SVP volunteers.”


To find out more about Stroud Valleys Project’s work at the greenspaces around Stroud and Cainscross, contact Ivi Szaboova on 01453 753358.

A family walk turned into a slow-worm rescue mission for Stroud Valleys Project’s biodiversity officer.

Ivi Szaboova was walking up to the Bisley Road Victorian cemetery with her SVP_Biodiversity_Officer_Ivi_Szaboova_with_the_rescued_slow-wormdaughter when they were stopped by Mark and Karen Coldrick. They were carrying a lunch box with a slow-worm, which their son Joe found on the pavement. Ivi said: “Slow-worms look a bit like snakes, but are actually legless lizards. The easiest way to tell them apart is by taking a quick peak at their eyes: lizards have lids while snakes are lidless. This slow-worm looked very fat so it could have been a pregnant female. They give birth to live young and are often seen basking in the sun on a warm road in the days before giving birth.”  

Because they didn’t know which garden it came from, the slow-worm was re-homed at the old cemetery.

Slow-worms are a native species, usually found hiding underneath rocks and logs. They can shed their tails to escape predators, and although the tail re-grows, it will stay smaller. It’s great to have slow-worms in your gardens, as they eat slugs and worms. You can encourage them by creating a warm compost heap and by planting shrubs to create good hiding places. You can also leave logs, a dark mat or a small piece of ply-board on the ground so the slow-worms can crawl under to warm up. Adult slow-worms grow up to 50 cm long and can live up to 30 years in the wild.

Anyone with unwanted garden hand tools can drop them into Stroud Valleys Project Eco Shop in Threadneedle Street to be sold to support the charity.

 SVP director of projects, Clare Mahdiyone, explained: “We set up the eco shop to raise money to help run Stroud Valleys Project and we are always looking for new ways to increase donations and help local people at the same time.

 “Now the shop is up and running we have decided to start a scheme to help first time gardeners or those on a low incomes so that they can come and buy cheap garden tools such as forks, rakes and spades- so we are asking anyone with spare or unwanted hand tools, but not anything electrical, to donate them to us.”

The environmental charity set up the SVP Eco Shop as a not-for-profit social enterprise in May and has just completed its first two months trading. The shop sells organic, Fair Trade and recycled goods with a focus on wildlife and gardening.

“We work with people to help the environment,” said Clare “So selling secondhand garden tools is a natural extension of the charity’s core work. We run all kinds of courses to introduce people to nature and to how look after important green spaces in their neighbourhood.”

For information on SVP events please call into the shop for a leaflet or click here.

(A press release from Stroud Town Council)

A new website has been launched as part of the campaign to encourge even more people to Shop Local.  The website www.shopinstroud.com has a full online directory of town traders and products as well as the latest news, events and promotions.

The new initiative is managed by the town's Chamber of Trade whose vice-chair Sabrina Pace-Humphreys commented: "At a time when the prevalence of chain stores has turned many of Britain’s High Streets into soulless copies of each other, Stroud is a welcome relief, offering a unique shopping experience unrivalled by any town or city in the locality."

"Where else would you find a specialist fairy store as you shopped for your weekly groceries, or stumble across a fossil shop as you sauntered through the streets? Boasting not one but two independent record shops – a rare occurrence even in cities – and a whole host of wonderful shops you won’t find anywhere else, Stroud really does have something for everyone."

The Town Council has been fully behind the Shop In Stroud LaunchShop Local campaign from the start and is a major funder of town centre events, initiatrives and improvements. Town Mayor Andy Read (pictured left at the town's weekly Farmers Market) said: "It's fantastic to see such partnership working going on between traders in our town. This is exactly the sort of innovative idea that will continue to set Stroud apart from the clone towns we see elsewhere."

To find out more about shopping in Stroud, and for the latest news, events and promotions please visit : www.shopinstroud.com

Picture taken by Andy Read

If you fancy a bat-tastic evening, dig out your torch and come on down to the Lake at the Lawns. Stroud Valleys Project has organised a bat walk on Wednesday 14th July, 8.30pm to 10pm, to help people learn more about these incredible creatures.

Read more... →

Fancy a bit of sunshine? Are you fascinated by little bugs, beetles and other flappy or crawly creatures? Come out then to potter around at Hamwell Leaze with a magnifying glass. Denise Gibbons will teach you to identify butterflies, beetles and bugs, and you can help Stroud Valleys Project get a better picture of wildlife using this nature haven.

Common Blue Butterfly

Free event, donations appreciated.

Meeting place: Hamwell Leaze greenspace in Cashes Green. Turn right into Hyett Road off Cashes Green Road. At the end of Hyett Road carry straight on to Walter Preston Court. Hamwell Leaze is at the end of the cul-de-sac.

For more details and to book a place contact Ivi Szaboova on 01453 753358 or 07876 050878.

What do you need to make a hedgehog all warm and toasty come next autumn? Just a bit of wood and a few screws, honest! This workshop is suitable for families who would like to attract hedgehogs to their gardens. No woodworking experience necessary, hedgehog box kits will be provided.







Saturday 19th June, 10am-2pm, Stroud

Venue: Stroud (confirmed upon booking)

Cost: £3/adult, £2/child, or £2/adult, £1/child for SVP Friends

Cost of hedgehog box: £25 to cover the cost of the materials if you want to take it home (includes booking fee)

Booking essential.


For more details please contact Ivi Szaboova on 01453 753358 or 07876 050878.

Purple Loosestrife

Stroud Valleys Project volunteers made a beautiful wetland area at the Long Ground in Stroud and created a brand new habitat for marginal plants as well as a cool hidey-hole for the resident amphibians. 

Ivi Szaboova from SVP said: “We had a fantastic response to this Springwatch event: 17 adults and 7 children gave up their Sunday morning lie-in to make a bog garden at their local greenspace. People learnt which damp-loving flowers to plant and how to squeeze a colourful squelchy bit of ground even into a tiny garden. Bog gardens can help ‘little dragons’ like newts and reptiles like grass snakes flourish in urban areas where they may be scarce. We planted Marsh marigold, Yellow flag iris, Ragged-robin, Red campion and Purple- loosestrife. ”

The event, which was held on a greenspace owned by Stroud Town Council and sponsored by the BBC, marked the International Year of Biodiversity 2010 promoting the importance of protecting a wide range of species across the UK and around the world.

 For more details please contact Ivi Szaboova on 01453 753358 or 07876 050878.

Stroud Valleys Project is a limited company,
registered in England and Wales.    

Registered number: 2224016    

Registered charity number: 900107

Stroud Valleys Project,
8 Threadneedle Street,

Tel: 01453 753358

Fax: 01453 755641

Email: info@stroudvalleysproject.org

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