The island flower bed outside Wanstead Station is looking somewhat neglected and doesn’t live up to the Wanstead Community Gardeners’ usual high standards. It’s a work in progress, reassures Marian Temple
The island bed between The George pub and Wanstead Station has been looking rather desolate for some time. An old water tank with ‘Wanstead Community Gardeners’ on it announces that it is one of our patches, but it has caused us problems since we took it over about three years ago.
The soil is very poor, dry and stony, not really a problem but the couch grass is and threatens to overrun the area. Our councillors suggested we could apply for a Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) grant to have some preparatory work done to give us a more level playing field, something we could cope with.
CIL grants come from developers who pay the council for infrastructure their new development might cause to be needed (such as helping to pay for schools, leisure centres, healthcare facilities and transport schemes). A percentage of this goes to local group projects for the improvement of the area. What we needed fitted in perfectly with this. We applied for the grant (a lot of hoop-jumping) and were successful as anticipated. We have been improving Wanstead since 2003, starting with the Corner House garden, and have never asked for anything in the way of funding.
With advice from Simon Litt of Valentines Mansion gardens and others, we decided to go for a wildflower meadow in the open part, which is our patch. In the meantime, the council had all the shrubs cut down in the long neck towards the traffic lights. This for reasons of impeding drivers’ sight lines. If we can get them to remove all the roots, we can include the neck in our project.
We hope to create a wildflower meadow, which would make a wonderful entrance into Wanstead. Drivers already enjoy our drivers’ beds as they wait at the traffic lights. Meadow plants can cope with poor, dry, stony soil, and while not being maintenance free, we should be able to cope with this. Keeping the drivers’ sight lines free will be an important consideration regarding the height of plants.
We are not sure what the timing will be for all this. It might very well be 2020 before this ugly duckling becomes a swan and delights all who see it, whether on foot or in cars. This is indeed a work in progress.
It’s been a long journey for your community gardeners, but we have great hopes for this rather sad patch of public soil.