March 2017

Grown with community spiritGrown with community spirit

How does your garden grow? A seemingly simple question with a surprisingly vast array of possible answers. From the simplest of responses ("very well, thanks"), to elaborate explanations of photosynthesis and an analysis of soil structure and irrigation methods best suited to publications other than this. For our purposes, I'd like to rephrase this 18th-century query posed to a certain disagreeable Mary and ask instead: what do our gardens show?

Gardening itself isn't to everyone's pleasure, but it takes a particularly finicky passer-by not to glean any enjoyment from a well-manicured herbaceous border or a row of smiling daffodils. So, whether you planted the seed or enjoyed the fruit, our community gardens present to us a journey and a destination all at once. Silver bells and cockle shells aside, there is as much beauty in the work that has taken place as there is in the results on show.

In many ways, gardens are the horticultural barometer of our communities. They are the bats of the urban ecosystem, giving an insight into the health of those they rely upon for their own wellbeing (bats, of course, making up eight of the government's official indicator species for monitoring biodiversity). And just as the common pipistrelle requires a healthy food chain for its survival, our gardens, especially our communal gardens, require a healthy community to tend to their growing needs. We see it in the flower beds and the garden patches we pass each day. We see the community love in the spring blossom. In short, we see a cared-for community in the community-cared-for gardens. And they are infectious. They spread the seeds of civic pride.