A guest post by writer Karen Hart
Dirty old plastic bags or lush scented herbs? The glint of broken glass or golden wallflowers? I didn’t need a second to decide when I visited the Angel Community Garden in Tonbridge yesterday.
Do take a look at that link; the Twitter feed shows how the featureless edge of a shopping centre car park has been transformed by volunteers.
Floral displays always enhance towns and cities but it’s extra special when something’s been created by the inspiration, hard work and obvious love of a community.
“It’s been enormously satisfying,” Christine Parker, from Abbey Funeral Services, said when we arrived at the car park. “My car stank of manure a friend gave us, and I ached all over when I got home, but I felt a real sense of achievement.”
Christine – in the stripy wasp top above – gave a donation toward the project and joined the yellow-clad volunteers on April 17 to help plant the site with bee-friendly flowers. Local traders, residents, council and Friends of the Earth representatives all got down to digging, planting and watering.
I love how the gravel maintenance access area (not a path: an important health & safety distinction) meanders through the plants in imitation of Tonbridge’s River Medway.
Most people would shrug or moan about similar town centre rubbish-strewn strips: I frequently do. But they – and I – don’t do anything about it.
“We’re lucky to be in such a beautiful town, with wonderful historic buildings and natural resources,” Christine said. “People complain about a lot of things but this shows what we can do together.”
One of my heroes is Ron Finley, a guerrilla gardener who’s transformed so many bleak and ugly kerbs and abandoned spaces in South Central Los Angeles.
This is just the first project to transform eyesores in Tonbridge. With their courgette, rosemary, sage and thyme amid the wallflowers and night-scented stock, the Angel Community Gardeners may yet rival Ron …