Gardens help grow community spirit

PA Photo/Hannah Stephenson
PA Photo/Hannah Stephenson

As towns increase in size and green space continues to come at a premium, urban community gardens are springing up to allow people in busy, often deprived areas, some space to recharge their batteries.

Many companies now see the need to support local green initiatives - Waitrose, Berkeley Homes and Boursin are just a few of the names to have supported community gardening projects and relevant charities.

Fragrance brand Jo Malone London is also a big supporter of community gardens and is currently working with charities to help marginalised communities in key cities build and maintain beautiful, scented gardens.

It initially collaborated with the UK charity Thrive, which uses gardening to help those living with physical disability and mental ill health, to create an Old English Garden in London’s Battersea Park in 2012, and has recently added a herb garden to the magnificent Redhall Walled Garden in Edinburgh, working with the Scottish Association for Mental Health.

The company is also working with Rotunda, a community centre in poverty-stricken Kirkdale, Liverpool, to create the Kirkdale Country Garden, which has just opened.

“Our gardens are created to be therapeutic in the short term and life-changing in the long term,” says Rachel Baker, general manager of Jo Malone London.

The Kirkdale garden will be an educational project as well as a place for recreation. Community members will be encouraged to take entry-level horticultural courses as a pathway to employment and self-sufficiency.

So how can everyday gardeners replicate some of the magic of Redhall and Kirkdale Country Garden, bringing an air of peace and tranquility to their own green space?

Garden designer Andy Thomson of BCA Landscape, which has helped create the Liverpool garden, explains: “ Generally it can help to keep things simple, don’t make your garden too busy and over-complicate things. Find a quiet spot where you like to sit, perhaps at the end of the garden or in dappled shade. Then have a look around and see what is in your eyeline, what you can hear and what you can smell. If things are too busy then it probably won’t be very conducive to creating an air of calm.