7 November, 2021
We’ve been getting the Garden of Remembrance ready for Armistice Day on Thursday, and for the season generally; a number of people come down during the week or so before Remembrance Day to pay their respects quietly, and we try to make it look tidy and cared for. And usually about this time of year, I see from the Archive section in the sidebar, that I blog about how we try to strike a balance between making the gardens super-tidy and respectful, and still being a garden for wildlife, with the need to provide habitats for hibernating insects as well as nectar and pollen for pollinators. But I see I write much the same thing every year, so let’s have a change.
Yesterday, while I was working on the bottom two beds, someone came up and asked ‘What’s going on here, then?’, and asked a number of questions about the garden and how it’s looked after. One of the questions was, ‘How many people look after it?’. The answer yesterday was ‘five’, because that’s how many people are in the team that help out regularly (it used to be six – Jenny, we miss you! Hope you’re enjoying looking after community gardens in Scarborough). But over the last day or so, I’ve realised that’s such an understimate.
There are so many people who make this garden what it is! and by extension, who help with the other wildlife-friendly sites that South Beds Friends of the Earth look after under its ‘Keep the Buzz in Leighton Buzzard’ partnership with the Town Council.
This week alone, we’ve had four people delivering bags of leaves for the leaf mould bin; three have given me old flowerpots, so I can lift spare foxgloves, scabious, knapweed, pulmonaria and lots of other plants, and spread them round our various sites, as appropriate; three neighbours have given me cardboard, which we tear up and add to compost as ‘Browns’ to balance all the ‘Greens’ we put in from stems and weeds and things from the garden; I’ve planted out plants donated by neighbours, and grown on at home to check that they’re thriving and healthy; when we need to weed-wand the paths, a crowd from South Beds Friends of the Earth come down and help, over a cup of tea or coffee. For a couple of years we had a local student work with us for the volunteering section of his Bronze and Silver Duke of Edinburgh’s awards (and we miss you, Miles!)
The Town Council’s groundsmen have almost filled our leaf mould bin (a 4×4 metre cube) again with leaves from the playing fields and the lawns in the Garden of Remembrance, and they’ve helped us at other times. The Town Councillors let us do this in the first place, we’re still grateful to them!
And then of course, the children from the preschool in the pavillion have a great time spreading some of the leaf mould all over their bed (and all over us, and the paths, and anywhere they can fling it). And they sow peas and carrots, and their enthusiasm reminds us how amazing it is to grow something from seed, and then eat it.
Passers-by give us encouragement; sometimes they offer us seeds, or plants. When someone uprooted the large opium poppy in the middle bed a couple of years ago, a passer-by stopped to offer me some seeds from hers, and then set off immediately to fetch them.
So how could I count all the people who make this garden what it is? It’s the whole community.