Tuesday 23 October 2018

Part of the pattern

Marie Staunton visits a community garden that is full of inspiration

Marie Summer 6 June 1st Community Yarn garden at Bloom PIx Ronan Lang/Feature File
Marie Summer 6 June 1st Community Yarn garden at Bloom PIx Ronan Lang/Feature File
Marie Summer 6 June 1st Allium flowers PIx Ronan Lang/Feature File

Marie Staunton

During the long summer holidays, we spent most of our time playing outside; rounders and curb football being the preferred games. But for a couple of days we were on clean-up duty, and the estate was given a good, old-fashioned tidy-up.

This was before Tidy Towns; it was just us and our mams, a lot of refuse sacks and a good attitude. There was a definite feeling of community.

That feeling of inclusion, where everybody knew their neighbours and looked out for each other's children and had a bit of time to have a chat about whatever took their fancy, was very apparent.

As we are in full 'Bloom' mode this weekend, I visited a community garden that has come about because of that sense of inclusion. I loved the simplicity of it.

Called 'All Part of the Pattern', it is a garden that is both inspirational and inclusive. It sends out a message to communities all over this country to get involved in local activities.

It encourages those who are on their own to get involved, encouraging them to show off their skills and their love of craft.

Gardens are very much a part of a community; they connect you to your neighbours. Even if it's only a wave over the garden fence and a quick chat about the weather, it keeps you in touch with what is happening in your own area.

This little postcard garden represents the coming together of ordinary people like you and me, who can knit a bit, sew a bit or garden a bit.

They have yarn-bombed the small fruit tree and garden tools to show off their skills. Yarn-bombing is the new street art, if you like. The children knit the fruit pompoms to represent their involvement and the other knitted pieces are donated by anyone in the area who can handle a crochet hook or knitting needle.

Whatever your opinion on this small garden, it brought together a group of people with varying skills and set out to include all. And that is what gardening should be all about.

Have a look out for it if you are going to Bloom this weekend.

There is a huge tradition of craft and community gardening all over the UK and America, but it has only started to catch on here over the past few years.

It is a response to the lack of green space in and around cities. Vacant or derelict public spaces are cleaned up and turned into productive gardens that the whole community can enjoy. If you want to learn a bit more about this, have a look at communitygardennetwork.ning. com.

With a bit of luck, the Bloom gardens will bask in glorious sunshine this weekend and you can admire the hard work of all those who have taken part. And, of course, it's a great excuse to buy a few more plants for the garden.

We bought a huge number of allium bulbs a couple of years ago and they have now settled in. They are all starting to flower beautifully.

The great thing about investing in bulbs like these is that you are rewarded every year for the initial investment you made. Quite a few allium species produce offsets and you can harvest these once the flower has gone over and the foliage has died right back.

Lift them out of the soil and detach the little offsets. Pot them up into a mix of compost and grit. Or, you could just plant the new little allium bulbs straight into another part of the garden.

Allium like sunshine and a free-draining soil. They wouldn't be too keen on a waterlogged or exposed part of the garden. You could grow the smaller ones in pots as long as you plant them deeply enough. They look really well if they are planted alongside Euphorbia or the lime-coloured Nicotiana.

The Bloom festival continues tomorrow and Monday. Children go free, so treat yourselves to a great day out.

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