Amgueddfa Blog: Learning

New English Learner Resources for Amgueddfa Cymru

Loveday Williams, Senior Learning, Participation and Interpretation Officer, 10 May 2023

Amgueddfa Cymru Museum Wales have been working with Refugees and Asylum Seekers, supporting people to integrate into their new communities for many years. 

As part of this work, we have developed partnerships with key organisations such as Addysg Oedolion Cymru Adult Learning Cymru. They have been working with us over the past year, alongside their ESOL students, to develop new ESOL learner resources designed to support people learning English to explore our museums and galleries. 

The new resources cover the National Waterfront Museum in Swansea, the National Slate Museum in Llanberis and the National Roman Legion Museum in Caerleon. 

The resources have been created by ESOL tutors and tested by ESOL learners. They follow the ESOL curriculum and cover a range of different levels from Entry to Level 2. 

Now that the new resources have been tested, tweaked, and trialed they are ready to download from our website for any ESOL learner or group visiting one of the museums. (See the links above). 

We also have a suite of ESOL resources for St Fagans National Museum of History which were developed in a similar way as part of the HLF funded Creu Hanes Making History Project in 2014. 

We continue to work with our partners and community members to provide meaningful opportunities for people facing barriers to participation in the arts and cultural heritage. 

We learn so much from the people who visit our sites and engage in the learning opportunities we offer. 

Supporting those people who are newly arrived in Wales to settle and integrate into their new communities is a very important area of our work and we hope that these new learner resources help many people on that journey. 

Diolch yn fawr to Addysg Oedolion Cymru Adult Learning Wales and the ESOL tutors and learners who have contributed to the creation of these new learner resources. 

Caring for nature this May

Penny Tomkins, 3 May 2023

Hi Bulb Buddies,

I hope it’s been a lovely, sunny start to May where you are.  The weather is getting warmer, and the days are getting longer. Here are a few things you can do to care for nature in May:

Go on a nature walk

Take a walk in your local park, woods, or countryside. Observe the different types of trees, flowers, and insects you come across. You could even take a notebook to draw and write about what you see. Why not practice mindfulness while you are outdoors, and really listen, look, smell and feel your surroundings. This Mindful Tour resource is developed for the gardens at St Fagans National Museum of History, but it contains some fantastic tips that can be applied to any mindful walk. 

Plant a garden

You don't need a big garden to grow plants. You could plant flowers in a pot or even in an old shoe! Why not create an up-cycled plant pot? You could do some research into pollinators to see which plants best support them. Pollinators like bees and butterflies are essential to the survival of plants and ecosystems but they are under threat because of habitat loss, climate change and pollution. Schools that entered weather and flower data to the Amgueddfa Cymru website will receive seeds that will help to support pollinators. 

Be mindful of water

Water is essential for all living things, but we should try to conserve it. Some ways you could do this are by turning off the tap while you brush your teeth, taking shorter showers or re-using water from the washing-up to water your plants! You can also help nature by making sure there is water in your garden or school grounds, such as in the form of a small pond or a birdbath. The bird spotting sheets on the right can help you to identify any common garden birds you might see. 

No Mow May

Some of you may have heard of the campaign #NoMowMay where people are asked to not mow sections of their garden this month to help wildlife. You may notice more areas that are left to grow wild over the coming weeks, and this campaign may be why. Be mindful of these spaces and the wild plants, insects and animals that might be making them their home. There are some areas that will adopt this approach throughout the summer, and councils are being encouraged to follow suit and leave safe spaces for wildlife. Maybe you could ask your school if they will support this by leaving an area of the grounds un-mowed? Maybe you could plant any pollinator seeds you receive for taking part in the Spring Bulbs for Schools Investigation in this space? 

There are many other small actions that can be taken to make a difference to our local spaces. Why not share any further ideas you have for exploring or conserving nature in the comments section below? Remember, every action helps when it comes to protecting our planet. So, get outside, explore, have fun, and make a difference! 

Professor Plant

How to care for your bulbs after flowering

Penny Tomkins, 28 April 2023


Hi Bulb Buddies, 


Many of you may be wondering what to do with your plants now that they have flowered. You don't need to trim your plant or re-plant your bulb until at least seven weeks after it has flowered. Leave your plants outside in the sunshine, as this allows the bulb to continue storing energy for the following year. 


Once your bulb has flowered you may wish to take it home, plant it in your school or even re-use your pot to grow something else. Read through the instructions below to decide how you would like to look after your bulb.


Keep your bulb in your pot

• Trim back the leaves. 

• Store your pot outside and out of the way until the following spring, when your flowers will start to grow again! Make sure your soil doesn’t dry out over the summer by watering when required.


Empty your pot

• Trim back the leaves. 

• Empty your pot onto some newspaper and look for your bulbs. 

• Shake them to remove any excess soil.

• Inspect your bulbs, only keep the ones that are look healthy and are of a good size. Discard those that are soft or rotten. Every few years bulbs double. When they double two bulbs will be joined together. If this is the case, pull them away from one another very carefully. When they are doubling, they make fewer flowers because they are putting their energy into making more bulbs. By separating them you should get more flowers. 


Plant your bulbs in your garden or school

• Follow the instructions on how to empty your pot.

• Find an area to plant the bulbs, choose a sunny or lightly shaded position. 

• Dig a hole for each bulb that is twice as deep as the height of your bulb and make sure the shoot is pointing upwards and the roots downwards.

• Plant each bulb two or three bulb widths apart.

• Your bulbs should now flower year after year. Inspect the bulbs and divide any doubles every three years to increase flowering. 

• You could now re-use your pot to plant a summer herb or flower. You may receive some seeds for taking part in the investigation that could be planted in your pots. 


Dry out your bulbs and store them until the following autumn

• If you don’t have a garden and you want to use your plant pot to grow something else you may wish to dry out your bulbs and store them over the summer.

• Follow the instructions on how to empty your pot.

• Lay bulbs on a tray or newspaper to dry for 1 week. Place in a labelled paper bag and store in a cool place until they are ready to plant again in November.


There are a number of options to choose from here. Hopefully you will be able to enjoy your plants again next Spring.


Professor Plant



Our Plants Are Flowering

Penny Tomkins, 29 March 2023

Spring has arrived Bulb Buddies,

I’m sure we’ve all noticed signs of spring, including crocus and daffodil plants in full bloom! Have you ever wondered why these plants flower, and how to tell when they have flowered? Let's explore this together. 

Daffodils and crocuses are both bulb plants, which means that they grow from bulbs that are planted in the ground. These bulbs store energy for the plant to use when it's ready to grow. The bulbs stay dormant through most of the winter and begin to grow as the weather warms, which is when their shoots first emerge from the soil. Shoots appear first, so that the leaves can produce food for the plant through photosynthesis, where energy from sunlight is used to turn carbon dioxide and water into sugar and oxygen. The plants use the sugar as food, to provide energy to continue growing and to replenish their bulb ready for the following winter. As the plants continue to grow, they produce leaves, stems, and flowers.

You can tell when these plants have flowered by looking for the blossoms on the stem.  Daffodils usually have one yellow or white trumpet-shaped flower on a long stem, while crocuses have smaller, cup-shaped flowers that come in a variety of colours like purple, white, and yellow. These bright, colourful flowers attract pollinating insects like bees and butterflies. Pollen is sticky, so it attaches to pollinating insects and is taken by them to different flowers. Pollination happens when pollen from the male part of a flower (the stamen) is transferred to the female part of a flower (the pistil). Once this happens, the flower can produce seeds.

After the flowers have bloomed and the seeds have been produced, the plants start to die back. Our little bulbs will then go dormant again, until the next growing season.

Some schools have shared that their plants have flowered. You can see which schools have sent in flowering records by looking at the project map and the flower graphs. Remember, you can also look at results from previous years to compare. Why not have a look to see if your school has taken part in the project before? 

I’ve attached the Keeping Flower Records resource to the right of the page. This looks at how to take height measurements for your plants and how to tell when the flower has fully opened. It also lists some resources on the website, like the activity sheets for naming parts of plants. 

We ask that you note the date that your plant first flowers and the height of your plant on that date to your flowering chart. You can then upload this information to the website when next entering your weather data. Remember, we ask for measurements in mm. If you accidentally record your height in cm it will show on the website in mm. This means that a 15cm daffodil becomes a 15mm (1.5cm) daffodil! 

I’ve attached some botanical illustrations we’ve been sent by schools in previous years. Why not make a study of your plants and draw what you see? It can be interesting to make regular drawings of your plants, to see how they change over time. 

We’ve watched our plants from bulb to flower. I have seen from the comments that many of you have been fascinated by the changes you’ve seen. I’ve attached an activity sheet for creating an Origami booklet that explores the life of a bulb. There is a version that you can colour in yourself and a version that is already in colour. 

We are in the last week of weather data collection. We ask that schools upload all of their weather data to the website by 31 March. If your plants have flowered, please upload your flowering data by 31 March. If your plants have not yet flowered, please let us know in the comments. There is further guidance around this in the attached ‘Keeping Flower Records’ resource. 

Please share photos with us by email or Twitter, it’s always lovely to see the plants in bloom. Please share your thoughts on the project in the comments section when uploading your data, you could also let us know what you think the mystery bulbs were this year!

Keep up the good work Bulb Buddies,

Professor Plant & Baby Bulb

March is for mulching

Luciana Skidmore, 16 March 2023

If you are visiting St. Fagans this month you will notice an army of gardeners and volunteers marching around the gardens with wheelbarrows full of organic matter to condition the soil of our beautiful gardens. As winter comes to an end, spring arrives with a promise of growth. This is a crucial moment in the gardening calendar to prepare for the warmer months ahead. 

Because of the over-emittance of greenhouse gases, the Earth’s surface temperature is increasing rapidly. We are noticing summer months that are hotter and drier than ever, only last year we witnessed temperatures around 40°C in some areas of the UK. The excessive heat and prolonged drought have devastating effects on our local flora and fauna. 

One of the most important tasks for this month is to mulch the soil by adding a layer of organic matter to the soil surface. Mulching brings numerous benefits to plants including moisture retention in periods of drought, weed suppression, improvement of soil structure and fertility, reducing the need for artificial fertilisers, prevention of soil erosion, and encouragement of beneficial organisms such as earthworms, soil bacteria and fungi. Additionally, it attracts wildlife to our gardens, one of my favourite memories is of being followed by Robins as we mulch the garden in spring. They patiently wait for a feast of earthworms, while gifting us with their beautiful bird song announcing the arrival of spring. 

There are many different types of mulching materials and each with their own benefits and uses. Most of our gardens are mulched with well-rotted farmyard manure sourced from Llwyn-yr-eos farm in St. Fagans and from a local farmer. The manure is gradually incorporated into the soil by the activity of earthworms and other microorganisms, which improves the soil structure and supplies the plants with nutrients. This nitrogen rich material is ideal to be used on herbaceous borders, vegetable beds, roses and newly planted trees and shrubs.

However not all plants like nutrient rich mulches, plants that are adapted to growing in hot and dry conditions often do not cope well with excessive moisture and high fertility. For example, in the Herb Garden where we have Mediterranean plants such as lavender, rosemary, sage and thyme we have opted for mulching the beds with gravel. This is an inorganic material that does not break down; therefore it does not release nutrients to the soil. In addition, gravel is great at promoting good drainage, suppressing weeds, and adding aesthetic value to the garden.  

This year we are trying new methods of mulching as a sustainable way to utilise the maximum of our local resources. We have started using raw wool provided by the Llwyn-yr-Eos farm to mulch the vines in the greenhouse. This will help with water conservation and prevention of weeds. Besides the wool fleece degrades slowly releasing nutrients into the soil and feeding the vines. Another advantage is that wool can help retain heat during colder months, keeping the root of the vines warm in winter. 

In March we cut back the ornamental grasses and perennials of the Dutch garden and a large amount of material usually ends up in the compost heap. This year we decided to skip this process and instead we added the dried grass clippings directly to the surface of the pumpkin patch. We have sprinkled a fine layer of manure on top to weigh down the grasses and prevent them from blowing in the wind. This will also aid the process of decomposition by introducing nitrogen to this carbon rich material.  While the farmers make hay for a rainy day, the gardeners mulch with hay for a hotter day.

When choosing mulches or growing mediums for your garden, prefer materials from sustainable and local sources in order reduce the carbon footprint from transportation. It is also important to avoid peat-based composts at all costs. The extraction of peat has a negative impact in the environment, it destroys the natural habitat of many species that live in peatlands, besides it releases tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere contributing to the greenhouse effect. 
For the home gardener the most sustainable and cost-effective option is to mulch using homemade compost or leaf mould. Why not try making your own compost using kitchen and garden waste? You will be surprised at the benefits you can reap from your compost heap.